"The earliest sunset really comes in the first week in December, and the latest sunrise occurs in early January. Yet December 21 really is the shortest day of the year. Why?"
—Click the link to get the Science stuff on solstices and orbital curvatures and whatever; the important thing to take away here is that the days of early darkness are over! I mean, in the sky. In your own life darkness will continue to come earlier with each passing page of the calendar until you wake up in the morning to discover that it is dark in your soul already and the sun will never shine there again. You'll continue to go through the motions, of course, because you can be dead inside for a long, long time and manage to carry on as if everything is alright—if you look very closely you will notice that most of the people around you have been dead inside for years and either don't know it or have reached some level of acceptance about it—but the light that once lifted you up and set you on your way with the energy to take in all that life has to offer will spark nevermore. Still, it'll be nice to have that extra bit of brightness in the evening, right?
Photo by Adrian Nier, via Flickr