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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder

Jingle Your Own Bells (Or Why The Hell Do We Turn Our Clocks Back?)

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells Jingle all the way Oh, what fun it is to ride In a one horse open sleigh Jingle bells, jingle bells Jingle all the way Oh, what fun it is to ride In a one horse open sleigh James Lord Pierpont who wrote “Jingle Bells” in 1857 must have had one too many hot toddies before he staggered to a writing table and penned the song that every preschooler and kindergartener learns and then performs in the school holiday assembly just before Xmas break. (Depending upon the calendar and the makeup of the local school board, “Oh, Dreidel, Dreidel” and “Happy, Happy Kwanza” will be thrown into the mix.)

And, yes, I was once one of those mothers who sat in the front row of the auditorium and waved and winked at my son during said assembly, never realizing that “Jingle Bells” would not “hark the angels sing” but herald the cold, dark, short days of winter. I dread that day in November when we are mandated (Am I allowed to use that word here?) to set our clocks back one hour and thus switch from Eastern Daylight Time to Daylight Savings Time.

Victory! Congress passes daylight saving bill, 1918

In this so-called victory poster, dear ole’ Uncle Sam is all decked out in his red, white, and blue and points to the VIII hour on a large clock, and the same hour is showing on the elated young kid with a clock on his neck instead of a head. Yep, it’s all a bit strange. And OMG, Uncle Sam is holding a hoe and has a rifle slung across his shoulder. WTF?

The Library of Congress is a bit of a help here. Daylight Savings Time, a representative posted, was established during WWI as a “way of conserving fuel needed for the war effort and of extending the working day.” Okay, that explains the rifle. I guess.

But the hoe? Was that a call to all patriotic Americans to start a vegetable garden; you know, one of those victory gardens that were all the rage during WWII? Or was the loss of an hour of daylight good for the farmers whose cows produce more milk in the dark? Not really. Research shows that cows produce more milk in the AM when the sun is up.

What am I missing here? Wouldn’t losing an hour of light increase not decrease the need for fuel, and how would the working day be extended? Please, help me out here. I’m at a loss which is possibly a side effect of my seasonal affective depression that hits right around the time we “fall back.”

From what I’ve read, there are reasons for falling back that have nothing to do with war. At least, that’s what some officials say. They contend that DST saves energy because people tend to spend more time outside when it’s lighter out. Uh, have they spent any time above the Mason Dixon Line in November through March?

And then there’s the Department of Transportation that champions DST because it “saves lives and prevents traffic injuries” because visibility is better. Again, it’s dark around this neck of the woods long before rush-hour traffic begins. And according to the Institute for Highway Safety, more than 40% of all fatal car crashes happen after the sun has set.

It should come as no surprise as to why I am counting down the days until the Winter Solstice on December 21, the shortest day of the year. On that day, the sun travels the shortest path through the sky and gives us the day of the least sunlight and the longest night. And then, hark the angels sing, the days start getting longer. True, an average of 2 minutes and 7 seconds every night doesn’t sound like much, but for me, it brings hope for an early spring.

Until then, I’ll sit in front of my blu light for 20 to 30 minutes every morning and make myself an alcohol-infused hot toddy every night.

Recipe, San Francisco bartender Jacques Bezuidenhout

Boiling water, to fill a mug 4 cloves 1 lemon peel or wheel 2 teaspoons demerara sugar or brown sugar 1/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed 2 ounces whiskey (bourbon, rye, Irish or scotch)


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