December is a special month for us. All three of our children were born in December–in two weeks time, we celebrate three birthdays and Christmas! So, many previous Decembers have been busy flurries of activity–cake-baking, special meal-making, decorating, gift-making and wrapping, school concerts, finals, homecomings, parties, and more. But this Christmas was quiet. Our last college student finished finals and flew to Austin to spend Christmas with one of his sisters. We sent our love and best wishes to them–it just wasn’t the same.
December weather wasn’t the same as usual either. It began cold and clear with a thick blanket of snow covering the ground. Day after day of that first week we were dazzled by incredible sunsets and magnificent moonrises.
Contrails, from jet airplane exhaust condensing and freezing into ice crystals, crisscrossed the blue sky.
The afternoon sunlight streamed through the leaves still holding onto the honeysuckle, creating a glowing shrub of gold.
That brilliant week faded into cloudy days where temperature and moisture created an inversion, entombing us in fog. At first the fog froze and built a halo of frost on the red, clustered sumac seedheads and the winged seeds of the amur maples.
Then the temperatures warmed and began melting the snow. Water droplets adorned the trees.
Autumn was uncovered as the snow melted.
Clouds persisted into the fourth week as we headed toward Christmas. Temperatures once again rose above freezing, melting the white from Christmas….until the evening of Christmas Day when the snow started falling again. The flower heads of lilac and Joe Pye weed caught the snow–a year’s worth of seasons contained in the image.
The seedhead of the sumac–the flower of this year and the seeds for the future–was faded and covered in white, holding up its arms to catch the new snow.
We end this month and this year with the turning of seasons and time. The constancy of the sunsets and moonrises keeps us grounded as so many other things change around us. The unexpected may leave us in a fog for longer than we care to be there, but it happens for good reason. Sometimes we need to go back in order to move forward. We need the quiet in order to glean the gold from our past and let the chaff fall away in forgiveness. Take the gold and the haloed moments of your life and let them fill you and sustain you for the journey ahead. Let the trail you leave behind be one of love and goodness. As a year’s worth of seasons shine from your face, lift up your arms to embrace the New Year.