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Making it through another tough year

Yesterday was the last 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century.

And it was, of course, the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of this crazy mixed-up pivot-on-a-dime pandemic-ridden year here in the northern hemisphere: “On the December solstice, the Sun reaches its southernmost position in the sky, no matter where on Earth you happen to be. In the Northern hemisphere, the Sun travels its lowest, shortest path across the sky on that day. Thus, in the north, the winter solstice brings the shortest day of the year, in terms of hours of sunlight.”1

In central New Jersey — home of The Legal Genealogist — yesterday brought nine hours, 19 minutes and 26 seconds of daylight.

Today, we will enjoy nine hours, 19 minutes and 33 seconds of daylight. Tomorrow it will be even better: nine hours, 19 minutes and 51 seconds of daylight. In just a few days, as the calendar gets ready to turn, it will be better yet. On New Year’s Eve, we will see nine hours, 23 minutes and 11 seconds of daylight.2

And so it will continue in the days and weeks and months to come.

The light, returning.

The physical light, at least.

This time last year, we all thought the emotional light might have a chance as well.

We were about to get a vaccine — the biggest step possible in battling the pandemic after nearly 1.7 million people across the globe and 317,684 people in the United States had lost their lives to this terrible disease.3 That good news was tempered by the bad news of a new variant, the one that came to be called Delta.4

As of this morning, of course, the numbers of those who’ve lost their lives are at a level unthinkable a year ago: nearly 5.4 million worldwide and a stunning 810,000 here in the United States. The number of cases rising, with 276 million worldwide and 51 million here in the U.S.5 And yet another new variant, called Omicron, now spreading fast.6

With vaccination numbers still ridiculously low — only 46.6% of the world population fully vaccinated and not even 62% of Americans despite widespread free vaccine availability here7 — it feels like this is never going to end.

Which is a really dark thought for this first day when the light will grow.

So… deep breath… let’s all give ourselves credit for what we have done.

Let’s take a moment to thank each other for getting those jabs, even that booster. For wearing those masks. For soldiering on, day after day, often in solitude. For learning to use technology to stay in contact… giving up the physical closeness and touch we’d all so much like to have.

As we did a year ago, let’s give ourselves credit for making it this far.

Let’s make each other a commitment to keep on doing what we need to…

To make it through.

To make it so as many of us as possible can make it all the way through, however long that takes.

To make it so we can all celebrate the return of that light.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “The return of the light: 2021,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 22 Dec 2021).


  1. NASA, “What’s Up – December 2020” podcast, transcript posted 2 Dec 2020 ( : accessed 22 Dec 2021).
  2. Sunrise Sunset Times of New Jersey, USA,” ( : accessed 22 Dec 2021).
  3. Coronavirus Resource Center, Johns Hopkins University & Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health ( : accessed 21 Dec 2020).
  4. See Marilynn Marchione, “EXPLAINER: Are new coronavirus strains cause for concern?,” Associated Press, posted 20 Dec 2020 ( : accessed 21 Dec 2020).
  5. Coronavirus Resource Center, Johns Hopkins University & Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health ( : accessed 22 Dec 2021).
  6. See J. Emory Parker, “Omicron by the numbers: Where things stand now,” Stat Health, posted 21 Dec 2021 ( : accessed 22 Dec 2021).
  7. See “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccinations,” Our World in Data ( : accessed 22 Dec 2021).
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