Why I Love December


The only part I like about walking through the freezing cold is getting into the warmth. I flash my hands over a candle, and the heat from the tiny flames warms them. I tease the fire with my finger tips, and turn my hand over, to warm the back of my hand. My exposed palm is instantly cold again. I like to wrap my hands around a hot mug. Not a warm mug. A mug with scalding hot tea whose temperature seeps through cracked China to warm my hands.

I love the first snow of the year, even though I end up hating the snow three weeks later. No matter how much we grow to hate the snow that weighs down the trees, and resent the graying city slush, the first snow is always a little bit magical. But then it gets old, and all we want is for the cold air to stop constricting our lungs.

I like that at the end of December, we get to start over. Even if we still have the same jobs, the same relationships, the same address, the same problems, we get a chance to wipe the 2015 blackboard and pick up a fresh piece of chalk. We get a chance to close the door on all of things that didn’t go our way. We get to push them out of our lives, shovel the gray slush away, and watch it be replaced with a fresh blanket of clean snow.

We lament over change, except when we need it. And in December, when we’ve given everything we had to the 12 months of 2015, we need it. No matter what happened this year, whether we accomplished all of our goals, or watched them fall apart, we get a opportunity for change at the end of the month. We are that lucky.

I love the progression of seasons. It brings unspoken reminders that you just don’t get when it’s 75 and sunny all year around. It’s nice to look up at a big pine tree in December. The deep green needles poke out, but the branches that were once perched upward are pointed at the ground, weighed down with heavy, gleaming snow. The branches succumb to the weight of the snow, they drag, but we know that those branches will spring back up when the snow melts.

In some ways, December seems like the month when our branches buckle under the weight of the snow. It is a month of waiting. We don’t want to deal with the weight of snow on our branches, nor do we want to trudge through the last weeks of school or work or anything. The anticipation for a break, for the new year, for the stress to lift, can become the focus on the month.

December is the storm before the calm. It is the shopping frenzy before we open gifts. It is the race to the year’s finish line.

There is always the temptation to rush through it. And if we move through the month at break-neck speed, we miss all the good it brings, whether that good is family, or friends, or twinkle lights, or a crackling fire. December might be the last month in the most hellish work year of your life, but it’s also the month of year-end bonuses. It might be the hurdle between you, and a clean slate, but even if your life was a trainwreck this year, you can at least appreciate the final culmination of the mess, before you resolve to change.

Don’t let the glow of December pass as you eagerly await your fresh start. Stop to enjoy the magic of the month, the very last month of the year. Stop for cocoa, or to watch kids throw snowballs in the park. Stop to talk to your friends or your family or your boss about what the hell happened this year. What brought you down, how you picked yourself up. Stop to enjoy the holiday parties, instead of simply poking your head in, just to check the obligations off your list. December should never be the month you’re just trying to make it through.