• One Minnesota Writer

Welcome, December

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

An early walk around Central Park, Roseville, Minnesota.

I love the month of December. Here in Minnesota, the air is freezing, sharp. Yesterday, Mick and I took an early morning walk beneath the full moon, our breath blew out miniature steam engine puffs of vapor. The grass, coated in frost, crunched beneath our feet. Everything was so quiet.

It's that very quiet I love about December. In spite of my affinity for holiday parties and baking batches of cookies with my kids, it's the quiet that wraps its arms around me and feels secure. For most of my life, I've been drawn to contemplative activities, to spaces where silence invites me in. In that silent space, there is room for so much: creativity, awe, understanding, gratitude, love.

I've been thinking a lot about my mom this year. December 5 is the twentieth anniversary of her death. I am surprised to realize it's been that long, and grateful all those years have distilled my ideas of what it is of her that I carry in me. As Mick and I decorated a tree in our living room a few days ago, I found old ornaments that were hers, thought about how precisely she put tinsel on the trees we had when I was a kid. She, too, liked quiet. She was quite an introvert, someone who fretted about social engagements months before they happened. Christmas was the worst. And yet she decorated our house with all kinds of ornaments and baubles and Santas and trees and garlands. She baked cookies and made fudge in huge quantities. Somehow, I think she didn't really get to the quiet part of December until the day after Christmas when all the preparations were done. It must have felt long overdue by the time she let herself rest and let go of further obligations as she saw them.

Two of my mom's old ornaments.

My mom made this ornament.

As I hung ornaments on our tree, I thought about how I've come to a place where less feels like more. We don't put as many holiday decorations around as we did when we had kids living at home. We just put out what means something to us, what feels right for this particular season. I remember my mother letting go of so much holiday prep when she was much older than I am now. But her letting go was different. It came from a place of exhaustion with tradition and expectation. Mine, and Mick's, comes from a place of simplicity: we do not want complicated holidays. We choose to make time to enjoy what December offers. We choose to embrace some of that winter quiet.

This year, with COVID upending every celebration we might share with others, December's silence is there, unwavering, steady, welcoming. It offers a rest from all that swirls around us, a microphone for our inner voice that tell us we are enough.

Each one of us is enough.

Welcome, December.

The choir boy candle my mom put out each Christmas.

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