The sun began setting at 4:11 p.m. on Dec. 2 and will continue to say good night, locked down at this same time, until next Friday. On Saturday, Dec. 15, bedtime for daylight nudges forward to 4:12 p.m. Not a major shift, and yet for many a reason to celebrate. The days are getting longer, even before the winter solstice arrives. It is as if the Vineyard hungered for light so deeply it couldn’t wait until the official day. In truth, it is latitudinal characteristics that tell the tale rather than desire setting the agenda.

But for those wishing for more light than a mere extra minute offers, a drive around the Island at night is like a series of gifts. Up-Island is no longer just an expanse of dark woods interspersed with chance reflections of forest creatures’ eyes in the headlights. Holiday lights now outline the shapes of rooftops, porches, doorways, mailboxes, tree branches and the occasional angel. And the warm glow of candles in windows seems to press upon the heart in ways past words.

The down-Island towns had begun to feel empty as the off-season deepened. Now they appear busy again, dressed in their holiday finery. A trip to the Gatchells in Oak Bluffs provides a blast of light as hectic as that of an August day at Five Corners. But it is important to remember that the holidays do not shine brightly for all; then again, what does? And yet the season seems to put extra pressure on everyone to be joyous and light-hearted. Perhaps then the greatest gift to give is one of light, most easily charged with a smile, kind words or a donation to those less fortunate.

After all, while 4:12 p.m. is better than 4:11 p.m., there is still a lot of darkness out there.