Salute the solstice and celebrate

Winter solstice rarely gets the respect it deserves. We're so caught up in the last-minute Christmas hubbub, this significant day gets lost in the proverbial shuffle. That's a shame.

Winter solstice rarely gets the respect it deserves.

We’re so caught up in the last-minute Christmas hubbub, this significant day gets lost in the proverbial shuffle.

That’s a shame.

Especially in the North where it actually matters.

Whether we look at it as the shortest day or the longest night, when the clock strikes 5:30 on the morning of Dec. 22, it marks a major turning point in our lives worthy of celebration.

Just knowing the days are going to start getting longer – even if it’ll be a few more weeks before we really see the difference – helps us breaks through an important psychological barrier.

The return of the sun lifts a load, but more importantly, it kicks off the holiday season, the first of many festive occasions.

Don’t tell the boss, but from this point forward concentration rapidly disintegrates and productivity goes to rest in a hot place.

It’ll be early January before anything resembles normalcy and even then it will take some extra cajoling.

In the meantime, between dancing under the stars, gorging on turkey dinner and deciphering instructions, there’ll be plenty of time to ponder all that’s transpired in 2011.

For the world, it may have been the year of the protester.

But for the Yukon, it was the year of the politician.

Think about it.

For starters, we elected a new MP, Conservative cage fighter and political newbie Ryan Leef. He surprised many when he knocked out Liberal heavyweight Larry Bagnell to represent the Yukon in Ottawa.

Green candidate John Streicker came third but his leader, Elizabeth May, made political history by becoming the country’s first Green MP. The federal NDP surprised even itself when it took over the keys to Stornoway, but its leader Jack Layton hardly got a chance to enjoy it before losing his battle with cancer.

There was lots of drama at the territorial level as well.

After 15 years as the MLA for Watson Lake and the last nine as Yukon premier, Dennis Fentie quietly called it quits and more or less vanished into the ether.

The three-way brawl that followed was a doozy. Whitehorse pharmacist Darrell Pasloski squared off against tour operator Rod Taylor and veteran cabinet minister Jim Kenyon.

Yukon Party ranks swelled and new energy was pumped into the party machine as it headed into the fall election.

It worked. Pasloski led the party to its third majority government. It won 11 of the Yukon’s 19 seats while the NDP regained some ground, winning six. Sadly, NDP MLA Steve Cardiff, who was killed in a head-on collision last summer, was not there to witness the party’s rise in popularity.

But the real story on Oct. 11 was at Liberal party headquarters. Not only did its leader, Arthur Mitchell, lose his seat to Yukon Party upstart Currie Dixon, the party was reduced from five seats to two.

All this was played out against the backdrop of a booming mining industry and soaring housing costs, making 2011 a pretty wild ride.

Now it’s almost over and the solstice provides the perfect opportunity to salute the achievements, celebrate the victories and start preparing ourselves for the challenges ahead.

Happy solstice, happy holidays.