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December 27, 2016

December by Dave LaRue

I love America! Over the last eight weeks, I've traveled to seven different countries. I’ve been able to share my experiences with people from so many different places, but I'm always very happy to come home to my country! It’s especially nice to come back this time of year. 

As we end another year where the holiday retail season started before Halloween, I’d like to talk a little bit about December. The whole month. The weeks before Christmas and the end of the year. It’s a magical month to a lot of people, and I think I know why. As the darkest month, it should be no surprise that darkness has a lot to do with it.  

In this world of lightbulbs and backlit screens, darkness still has power in December. In a sense, that’s what all those holiday lights drive home: without them, it’s very dark! What a blessing this time of year to get a reminder of the value of light–and everything else we take for granted. After all, we live in a world where on-demand light is more or less a given. We wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves if it wasn’t. But in the dark, quiet nights of December, we are each put back in touch with our traditions and our ancient instincts. We feel the cold, we see the way the shadows seem to feed into the darkness of night, and we feel comfort and gratitude in the fire like glow of the lights and warmth of our homes and the company of our loved ones. 

In November we feast and give thanks for what we have. In December we prepare to give and receive the gifts of the season, and open ourselves to the promise of the New Year. We take in the full significance of the bare ground of winter, the lack of warmth, the lack of light, and consider wholeheartedly what the world would be for us without all the things we are grateful for. It deepens our gratitude to know what it is to have what we have. Deep and sincere gratitude always leads to generosity, which feeds back into gratitude and willingness to endure. This powerful and edifying feast is laid out for each of us every December to help us get through the winter, and that’s not counting Christmas dinner!

The wish to share light and fellowship with our friends, neighbors, and loved ones, to move among the bustling crowds on city streets and in suburban malls, to take part in the traditions that tie us to our ancestors and to people all over the world are all part of this same December feast. For the rest of the year, traffic and crowds are a bother. We can be reluctant to spend a weekend afternoon visiting. We often resent the limitations of our personal pasts and family histories. 

But every December is an opportunity to do something different, to see things differently. In a different light. The gravity is different in this last month of the year. That’s what seems magical about it long after you’ve gone from believing in Santa Claus to being Santa Claus. This all-December feast helps us prepare for the blessings of the season and the challenges and accomplishments of the New Year, and it’s a powerfully transformative thing. 

I hope you and your family have a wonderful December, a Merry Christmas, a joyful Holiday season, and a prosperous, happy New Year.


Dave LaRue