December is the giant of the calendar year. It bullies all the other months with it’s frantic, festive persona. Both the fun-loving life of the party and the obnoxious character who sucks all the attention in the room. She’s busier and happier and larger than life.
But she’s also lonelier and sadder and phonier.
December bullies people too. She’s a hard task master. More than any other time of the year we want to do it all, and be it all, and get it all right. Or at least look the part in the family photo.
Not to worry. This isn’t a nihilistic, anti-Christmas post. It’s not another ’embrace the true reason for the season’ sermon. This is just me, trying to make peace with December, the month I anticipate and dread in equal measure.
I love the trimmings and trappings of the holidays. I relish the music and the decorations and the warm, spicy smells. I’m deeply touched by Nativity, and the connotations of Immanuel: ‘God With Us’. I even enjoy rushing around to create those special seasonal moments.
Except when I don’t.
In December, there’s a fine line between ‘have-to’ and ‘want-to.’ Traditions can either comfort or consume, enhance or ensnare, delight or dilute. The question we have to ask ourselves is this: do our rituals serve us, or do we serve them?
Advent is meant to be a time of reflection, of mindfulness, of living with intention. This is both a spiritual discipline and a practical skill, and it doesn’t just happen, no matter how many garlands we hang.
So here’s me, making it clear from the get-go: December is not the boss of me!