That Time of Year

September should be the official start of the new year. It has all the makings—leaves rustling, pumpkin infused drinks and front stoops, youngsters buying backpacks and oldsters feeling the urge to sniff number 2 pencils. September is the sweater draped guidance counselor suggesting you consider what comes next. 

January is the “Enough partying! What are you doing with your life?” aunt reminding you that it’s time to take down those tacky ornaments and do your taxes after you’ve shoveled the driveway. 

Which is why December is so important. Imperative, really. Sure it’s thirty-one days choked with obligation but if we’re lucky the real-deal moments seep in too.

Like how grandma’s kitchen floor groaned underfoot as she’d lovingly bake that next batch of cookies. There was always a next batch of cookies.

How it felt to hope with all hoping that you were getting that thing. The thing that is now hard to recall but the feeling, the longing, all these decades later remains.

The twinkle of candles and conversation around the table. Time spent listening and praying that no adult would take notice that I—the only kid for many years—was paying attention. I learned a lot by just being at the table.

Eventually when asked, “Holly, what do you think?” I reveled in officially being part of the conversation. And on years when I didn’t have an answer, I’d vow silently that I’d have one next year. An exercise in goal setting 101—more productive than any class I’d ever take in college.

Now, as the person who often sets the table and buys the cookies (didn’t inherit the baking gene) and lovingly makes the roast, there’s a different kind of longing that invades the season.

A desire to linger even when the magic is hard to locate under all of the wrapping. To breathe in time with loved ones still at the table. To pray for the health, happiness and dreams of the future table setters. 

A deep respect for all of the past Decembers. A nagging knowing that this December will soon be in that category too. A child-like hope that January will be kind.

Happy Holidays & New Year!

Where Daisy will be when the clock strikes midnight.

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