The writer T.S. Eliot claimed that “April is the cruelest month,” but I have to disagree. Around here, it’s December.
Yes, we love the decorations, the holiday music, the cookies and the parties, but the season starts too early and lasts too long, the kids become frenetic and the pressure to maintain the spirit nearly wrecks us.
Now that Christmas begins in September (at least according to Costco and Target), by late December, some of us are ready to take all of the red decor and “paint it black.”
I don’t think it’s true blues or depression, as in the Rolling Stones’ song, but perhaps it’s end-of-the-year-itis. So, let’s just give ourselves permission to celebrate that the season signifies endings, and look forward to the hope that comes with each January.
Here in Seattle, it does seem that the “whole world is black” during December. In fact, we endured something like 27 rainy days last month (totalling 6.79 inches of rain, in a year when we received 10 more inches than usual).
Because we live so far north, we experience very short days as we near the Winter Solstice. Those with office jobs hardly ever see the sun (even if it isn’t raining), which rises at nearly 8 am and sets at about 4:15 pm in late December.
Despite the dark, wet, crazy days, most of us parents try to act cheerful, putting one soggy boot in front of the other. For the sake of the kids, we decorate, we bake, we shop and we wrap. We attend parties and performances, and watch Elf and The Santa Clause over and over.
For me, however, the month is about finales. It’s the close of another calendar, the conclusion of a stressful season and a reminder of my father’s and brother’s premature deaths in long-ago Decembers.
More Americans die in December and January than at other times of year, according to the U.S.National Center for Health Statistics. Sadly, those numbers ring true close to home: during one week last month, three local friends lost their fathers and another lost a younger sister.
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