David Bouchier

Image by Noah Jurik from Pixabay

One thing I love about December is that, at the darkest time of the year, the Holidays give us something to celebrate. When we light the Christmas tree or the Hanukkah candles, we are recapitulating thousands of years of human history. The winter solstice tells us that we are over the worst of the darkness, if not the worst of the winter. Ancient peoples made great efforts to get the date of the solstice exactly right, because they were naturally afraid that the sun might never come back. Stonehenge is just one example.

Courtesy of George Dolgikh from Pexels

There is a piece of modern music by Charles Ives called “The Unanswered Question.” That’s an intriguing title because we all have a whole lot of unanswered questions. Unfortunately the music only asks the question, with its strange dissonances and unsteady rhythms, without offering even the hint of an answer.

Image by Prawny from Pixabay

At this time of year, whether you celebrate Christmas or not it’s hard to escape the legacy of Charles Dickens who more or less invented the modern Holiday, with all its charms and excesses. When the Puritans were in power, back in the 1600s, Christmas festivities were banned, along with plum puddings, as being sinfully indulgent. Even up to the 1840s, Christmas was not much more than a date on the church calendar. Then along came Dickens and his book A Christmas Carol and December was never the same again. He published the book in 1844 in an urgent attempt to make some money. As everyone knows, A Christmas Carol was a mega best seller. Dickens even made an American tour, reading his sentimental story to rapt audiences. There were stage versions of the story, and later movies, musicals, television specials and no doubt there is a videogame too.

Image by Pepper Mint from Pixabay

As winter creeps up on us many of our habits change. We stay indoors more, probably eat more and exercise less. This is exactly the kind of thing that the propagandists of the fitness industry keep warning us against. Most of us senior citizens have been hearing this same old refrain for half a century or more. We have heard it all and ignored it all before, and we’re still here.

Courtesy of Pixabay

Thanksgiving will be strange this year. Who will give thanks for what? How many of us will look back on 2020 and say: “Thanks for nothing.” A lot of people will miss Thanksgiving altogether, at least the traditional Normal Rockwell event where generations of the family gather for the symbolic feast. It’s just not the same on Zoom, and it’s especially hard for families who rarely have a chance to get together. They’ll be missing hugs and kisses and time with children and grandchildren — important things.