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Is This the Finale?

December 6, 2018

    December.
    Is it just another name on the calendar?  Is it just thirty-one more days in a tangle of days that run together like wet watercolor paint?  Is it just another part of a flat, joyless existence?  Is this the grand finale of the cycle of our lives?
    Or do I need an attitude adjustment?  To squint my eyes against the snow glare, strain my ears against the hiss of the wind, and snuff the freezing air until I find what I'm looking for?
    December up in Minnesota is not for those who love warmth and sunshine.  Lately, it hasn't even been for those who love snow, steaming breath, sleds, and skates.  What it has been is cold.  We dip down to -40 degrees Farenheit at our lowest, while 40 above is Providential bliss.  We don't get a whole lot of snow at once anymore, but let me tell you right now that no mere three inches of snow ever stopped a Minnesotan schoolday.   Ice, or strong winds and snow?  Yah, that'll do it.  But you have to shovel snow, and while throwing helpless, pure white deadweight around is jolly good animalistic fun, you and your back are going to have an uncomfortable chat about it afterwards if the snowfall was heavy.  Somewhere, buried in the snow, I might find what I'm looking for.
    And then there's Christmas.
    The radio stations we listen to start mixing in Christmas music with Christian music after Thanksgiving, and after a few days to a week, it's all Christmas music.   The lights and outdoor decorations start appearing out of nowhere, festooned on eaves, draped on bushes, reclining on lawns.  Sometimes we drive by some houses that put on spectacular splendor after dark, robing themselves in holiday lights.  However, we're not big into outdoor decorations at my house, and only the younger kids want a Christmas tree this year because one of my sisters is only two years old.  Enough said. 
    At my house, the days leading up to Christmas are full of secretive bustle and classified councils where the unprepared frantically whisper about what to give their numerous siblings for Christmas.  I had the brilliant idea of preparing some of my presents during summer vacation this year -- all of which will save me no stress and frantic scrambling if I don't get busy about those other presents soon!  While that's going on, other people are asking you what you want for Christmas.  I've noticed that, at least in my family, the older you get, the less ideas you have.  Number one on my list is snowpants. 
    This doesn't seem to be what I'm looking for.  Maybe I'm not looking hard enough.
    Critical to any Christmas celebration are the cookies.  If the cookies fall flat, you're screwed.  We make lists of what cookies to bake ahead of time and freeze for the big day.  Snickerdoodles, peanut butter blossoms, sugar cookies, and peppermint patties are practically family traditions.  Then we accumulate fancy crackers, quality cheeses, and delicious almonds to eat instead of the traditional heavier courses.      Perhaps I'm getting close.
   When we decorate for Christmas, we "decide," i..e., argue, about whose stocking is whose and where it goes.  The night before Christmas, we take turns running out of our bedrooms and stowing our presents, usually handmade, in the stockings.  I always have a sinking feeling because my presents usually don't compete with Mom and Dad's gifts, and I know it.  I guess I'll just accept that and do my best on the presents anyway.
    That's not what I'm looking for at all.
    Christmas is a day of excitement and joy, especially among the younger ranks.  Breakfast is forgotten as we shake all the goodies out of our stockings and examine them all.  After breakfast, some presents too large for the bulging stockings have to be opened and played with.  The floor is a mess of paper when we're through with this highly technical procedure, which mostly involves a lot of ripping.  Then we celebrate together the birth of our Saviour with songs, reverent prayers, shouts of praise, good food, and cookies.
    Christmas gets loud at my house.
    In the end, I believe I have answered my own question.  December is not a gray month of skulking along in biting winds in search of presents for a disappointing celebration.  December is a great time to be alive, a time of hope and good cheer, a time of unity and festivity.  It's my own fault if I don't enjoy it.  So this December is going to mark a the birth of a quest.  My quest, not in search of gold or vengeance or anything so dramatic as that.  
    I'm simply looking for the good in life.
    
 

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