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                   Sunday, December 21, 2008 - 7:04AM

One down, three to go

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
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Not much going on to talk about right now, but I wanted to at least get a less-depressing subject posted on here before Christmas. Today's arrival of 'official' winter is little more than a formality, since meteorologically speaking, winter has been here since November 15. That means we have three more months to go before we're out of the woods.

It's nice to know that the longer days are finally on the way back. I can see why the solstice was a celebrated event in human history, which of course is the primary reason we celebrate Christmas this time of year. As I've said before, it's hard for me to really get 'in' to the Christmas celebration, since it primarily a 'family thing' and since Biblical and circumstantial evidence points to Jesus being born in late September (shepherds wouldn't be outside with their flocks in the dead of winter, for example). I just have a hard time "disconnecting" my mind from reality to truly enjoy the season.

Early Christians started their own tradition to provide a wholesome alternative to the ancient pagan celebration of the winter solstice, which has stood the test of time as "Christmas" as we know it today. But you don't have to be pagan to appreciate the solstice aspect. It's a natural event in the calendar that is to spring what Wednesday is to the weekend - we're at a 'halfway point' to warmer temperatures and green foliage.

Here in West Virginia and at similar latitudes, we actually only have two months left to deal with 'deep winter' - as March is a meteorological "transition month". It snows a couple of times here in March every year, granted - but after the 1st, extended cold spells are less common and thunderstorms are becoming regular events. That's always been the date at which I've felt like I've 'survived' the winter.

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