The solstice is Monday, December 21, marking the shortest day of the year. It seems as if the days have been getting shorter and darker since at least November this year. That could be real or just a perception based on how bleak the COVID-19 pandemic numbers across the country have been, or perhaps it’s the unending blather and disinformation coming from the outgoing president and his devotees that makes everything feel bleak.

But there is light. There’s enough light to go outside and play and to breath the cold, clean air of Vermont. There are lights on people’s windows and doors and trees and there are lighted stars from one end of The Valley to the other. There is light coming from our Christmas trees and Menorahs. But the best light right now is the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel.

COVID-19 vaccines shipped to all 50 states this week, with Vermont’s arriving on Monday and the first doses being administered on Tuesday. The federal government is distributing the vaccines to states based on population and states have their own protocols for distribution. The first doses in Vermont are going to residents of long-term care facilities and frontline medical workers which is appropriate.

It will take a while to get sufficient doses for all health care workers and front facing workers and those in the priority groups identified by the department of health – but soon there will be enough for everyone who wants to get one. It won’t be immediate, but with the approval of new vaccines, supplies should readily be available by spring, according to Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.

Herd immunity, Levine said will be achieved when 75-80% of people have been vaccinated and the incidence of the virus is rendered extremely low in the community. Life will slowly return to some semblance of normal.

It’s hard to remember what normal felt like. When normal returns we’ll hug people and stand should to shoulder. We’ll stop and talk to people we run into in the parking lot. We will once again gather in celebration and in sorrow.

The shortest day of the year means that days will start getting longer -- not immediately, but soon the daylight will grow and join the light at the end of the tunnel.