The Prom Queen of the Gregorian Calendar

CherriDarling December.

by Cherri Ellis


Of all 12 of them, December is the best month. While we’ve been staring at holiday decorations since Halloween, they are now legitimate. Everywhere your gaze falls, there is some statement of celebration. There are actually nine major holidays in December, 10 if you count Festivus (for the rest of us!), and 11 for me because my birthday is the 18th.  Rather than making me feel cheated because my birthday is the week before Christmas, my mother used it to make me feel special. She was pretty magical that way, although it may have resulted in a slight personality disorder as an adult.  (December’s flower is the Narcissus.) In the South, December is a fleeting time of temperature extremes; you get to be cold in the yard and warm by the fire. There are parties even on weeknights, and a staggering percentage of food consumed is wrapped in bacon or dipped in chocolate. December sings, all month long.

There is poignancy to this time of year as we wind up another lap around the sun.  This is the year we lost both Maya Angelou and Robin Williams, two souls who were absolute gifts to the universe. May we never forget the words of either. Dr. Angelou left us with sagacious pearls like, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” As we walk through our days, we need to remember that “people will forget what you say, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel.” Thank you, Dr. Angelou.

The loss of Robin Williams was a punch to society’s collective gut. If one so loved could suffer so deeply, then what else are we missing? What a gift it is to cause the physical eruption of laughter to spill out of another person! Laughter boosts your immune system, releases endorphins, and even helps prevent heart disease. Laughter soothes the soul and keeps us from stabbing each other more often. It was a tiny present every time Robin gave us something like, “See, the problem is that God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one of them at a time.” Not always the clown, he also left us with, “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”  Thank you, Robin.

December is a month charged with emotion. There are sacred religious holidays, office parties, and acts of kindness from people who normally feel too strapped to give. According to Charity Navigator, a full 30 percent of all charitable giving happens in December. Gratitude runs deeper, loss is more acute, and there is a sense of wanting to give back. Sometimes a whiff of secrecy floats in the air as we covertly purchase or make gifts. There are foods that are mandatory just because at some point we deemed them so, and now to not prepare them would be heresy. At my house, December means that Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz, White Chocolate Covered Pretzels, and Sausage Spinnies are made by the boatload and then not made again for 11 months. (You can only eat like that at Christmas or they would have to cut through the sheetrock to get you out come Easter.)

All of the seasonal excitement is anchored by the familiar. As the third of three girls fairly close in age, my sisters and my Christmas stockings were often identical.  Wearing our new pajama sets that differed only in color, we would hold our stockings under the tree and say things like, “OK, let’s open the Legg’s pantyhose before we open the perfume.” For many years, we each got an Estee Lauder fragrance, and mine was always Cinnabar. Yes, it was too strong and exotic-smelling for a Midwestern teenager, especially in the amount I doused myself with, but I felt very mature as my mom discreetly cracked the car windows while we drove.

December babies are born into a party. Their birthstone is the blue topaz, which is overtly feminine but doesn’t match much. Two thirds of them are Sagittarius, which carries all of the social graces you would expect from a centaur holding a bow and arrow. The other third are Capricorn, which, as the sign of the Goat, doesn’t add much in the delicacy department. Sagittarians are creative and blunt and Capricorns are practical and disciplined, but both signs are very ambitious. The combination of the Sagittarians taking over the bar and the Capricorns having called ahead for a table is what makes getting into a restaurant after shopping so impossible.

I adore December. Under its glittery adornment, there is the feeling of finality. There is peace in the acceptance that it is too late to start new initiatives. For a deliciously brief and celebratory time, it simply is what it is.

Enjoy December to the fullest in all of the ways that matter to you. January is coming, and I have a feeling she’s not much fun.

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