December days


There is nothing quite like this time of the year. Cold and wet, lights twinkling in the dark, and trees as bare as can be. On my walk yesterday afternoon, I could not imagine the trees with leaves. I become the time it is, and will have to be surprised and amazed again in the spring when new shoots are everywhere and the color green symbolises rebirth all around. Indeed, each year each season surprises me anew. Even the stark, dark, cold, wet, bare season of winter. It is the renewed amazement each quarter that makes me realise the wonders of nature again and again. I feel so fortunate that Life Partner and I share different holiday rituals. That way I get to celebrate the best of Hanukah and Christmas. And I especially enjoy the firm, gentle Buddha face over our mantelpiece looking out at our Christmas tree and Hanukiyah at one and the same time. Lately, I feel I need all the spiritual help I can get.


Somehow, settling into older age has been difficult for me these past few months. Realising that I am not immortal, and that I only have a couple of decades and who-knows-what left to me, has been sobering with one or two physical ailments that coaxed me into this phase. I wonder about these new aches and pains in the early morning – are they the stuff of new things to come? I would rather be amazed at the starkness of winter or glorious golden days of fall than dwell on what sometimes feels like the autumn of my life. 

There is still so much I love doing: writing, long walks, watching Oscar and Mimi snuggle on the couch, reading, gardening outside or pottering with my plants indoors, listening to my son playing the piano, singing – accompanied by him and Life Partner on the guitar, presenting, teaching, having coffee with a friend, flying to different places or traveling by train, commuting early in the morning before the rush sets in, counseling students and families … the list is endless.


I become as excited as a young child each December as we bring the tree into our home and decorate it with nick knacks from twenty years ago, always buying a new piece or two to represent the year we are in. This year it is a strange little white, hairy, winter sasquatch I discovered at a craft sale somewhere. He or she will join our bands of angels some made of olive wood from Israel, or tin from Kenya, peace doves from UNICEF, and our brown-skinned Santa. Most years, JJ sends us delicious cookies that she baked lovingly all the way across the country in Seattle. I await those with childlike glee just because she cares about us – and, of course, because they are so delicious. My body may be aging but my soul is often stuck somewhere between six and ten years old. 

I wonder, will I still be like that when I enter the winter of my life?

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Another option: When survival meets reality

Nine years ago at Tamarika: May I borrow a culture?