The icy wind rattles the window panes, howling outside, signaling the arrival of the winter. This year it arrives suddenly, quickly ushering out the prolonged fall, with drizzling rain replaced with snow, leaves replaced with frost, brown everywhere covered up with dazzling white, sparkling, gleaming in the few short hours of sunlight. The night is beautiful, with stars glimmering in the sky like silent sentries of the sun, shedding light on the world while the sun sleeps. During the short day, a nest hidden in the crook of the gutter, protected from the gales, lives three majestic, ruby-breasted robins, chirping with the ringing of the wind chimes, a symphony that exhibits the month that we call December perfectly.
December is a time of reckoning, of remembering, of recognizing a year past. The symbolic end of the year is marked with celebrations. Christmas lights gleam from houses usually hidden by lush forest, now open to the rest of the world through bare branches and snowy lanes. Menorahs shine, flickering in the windowsills, guarding the warm, glowing interior from the storms outside. Joyous singing echoes out of every church and mosque, singing of a year past and the year to come.
December is a shimmering curtain of beauty, but the transition between the old and the new lifts that curtain. Behind the beauty is a dark truth, a cancerous substance that has infested and grown without mention. Our lives are increasingly cluttered, rushing everywhere, existing without living, reacting without responding. We no longer stop to celebrate a beautiful sunset, to mourn the first golden leaf that marks the end of summer, to admire the flaming maples and golden aspens, and to leap for joy at the first snow. The first buds of spring, greenery of summer, leaves of fall, and snow of winter are no longer noticed, much less worshiped. Even little children, who once jumped with glee when snow fell, now stay inside and stare at screens, ignoring the rest of the world. Those little beauties are gone, replaced with our phones, air-pods, computers, tablets, radios, home speakers, smartwatches, and stimuli everywhere.
The balance between screen time and non-screen time is spiraling out of control towards technology. I too am guilty of tipping the scales out of balance. Why? Because technology allows us to accomplish more and more. People used to never be able to stream music, make calls, or text in the car. Now you can do all three. Why waste time looking out the window when there is so much more you can do? If you don't do the people who are doing and accomplishing pass you. They get more popular, have more friends, make more connections. Pressure grows to get back to doing, to live in minutes and seconds.
I miss the quiet times in between when I can sit in front of a crackling fire, a warm mug of hot chocolate between my hands, my favorite blanket draped over my shoulders like snow on the lawn, and as I watch the snow slowly drift past the windows, I can think. I can think about all that I have seen in the past year, all that I have experienced. I can relive the highest of mountains and the lowest of valleys. I can relive the smallest of streams and widest of lakes. Every success and failure, every happy and sad moment, and above all, the seconds in between what we call life where we can truly live, to drink in the sky, to absorb to the moon, to bask in the sun, and swim in the trees.
Yet the most poignant part of December is that every ending is a beginning. The closing of a year is the opening of another. Every year the wonders you experience grow and expand, and December is a time to celebrate both your past and your future experiences. The mistakes you made can be fixed, the things you didn’t do can be done, the dreams you haven’t dreamed can be dreamed. December is the embodiment of all that. December is living perfectly. December is the time to live in the moment.
As I write this, I look out of my window into the world outside. The snowstorm has ended, and the sparkling snow illuminates a room usually lacking natural light. It glints like a thousand mirrors, showering light into dark places. I open the window, letting fresh air into the room, along with the beautiful shouts of childish laughter from below. I peered out, wondering who that could be. My sister is eating lunch, and no other children live nearby. Who could it be? The laughter reveals itself to be from my parents, who instead of being cooped up in their desks and computers, decided to take a break and feel December for themselves.