December always comes too soon and passes too fast, a truth that could apply to every day and season, but this twelfth month of the year marries the ordinary urgency of life with a sense of finality.
It's the month that says, "Last call. The year you thought would never come is already over. Don't waste what's left."
It's the month that leaves you humming, "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" and if you don't know that song, you should.
A lot of people have spent a lot of time in this wacky, treacherous, exhausting year saying, "I wish 2017 would be over," and some of them may be cheering now that it almost is. But that statement violates what should be a law:
Never wish your time away.
Time needs no encouragement. It vanishes fast enough all on its own.
So here in
It's a month of reckoning. If January is the personal trainer who flogs you to be your better self, and July is the friend telling you it's OK to relax, December is your psychotherapist.
It's the month that asks: What have you accomplished in these 11 months? What have you won and lost? Meant to do but didn't? Vowed to do and did?
What do you need to get done, before it's
December is our financial adviser as well: Make those charitable contributions. Use up your flex spending. File your work expenses. And are you really going to max out your credit cards on gifts that will be forgotten by June?
In December, we also engage, like it or not, in our annual collective eulogy.
All the celebrity deaths that flitted past on Facebook for the past 11 months are gathered into shockingly long and widely publicized lists.
This year's roster includes
December reminds us that the world is always adding and subtracting people, which is further incentive to appreciate its fading days.
In December, the media pummel us with lists of top news stories, which this year seem like enough to fill a decade, though the list is shorter if you exclude tweets. We can look back and marvel at how much we've lived through.
Above all, December is the month we associate with what we call "the holidays," and with them the reverence and rejoicing that come them. It's a month of rituals.
Sometimes December seems at odds with itself. On the one hand, it's a time for reflection, friends and family. On the other, it's a frenzy. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to learn to love the frenzy, and work to find moments of peace in it.
Take a walk in the snow, and appreciate how much more beautiful December snow is than February slush.
Enjoy the dark days and the slow return of light.
Make an effort to spend time with people you care about.
Whatever December means to you, make it count. It will be gone almost as fast as you can say 2018.