December Always Brings Out the Winter in Me

Before this year, I have spent the several Christmases before thousands of miles away from familly and friends and invariably, the month of December has long seemed melancholic for me. Before this year, I thought that the blueness of my Decembers was caused by the fact that I could not be at home. This December, however, I have been surrounded by family and by the best of my friends, and still, I have reached the end of December, and I know that even among people that I love, something within me changes, regardless of where I am, and during December, my spirit always enters a type of wintry rest.

December River – Watercolor Painted by Jacki Kellum – December 1, 2014

A few years ago, I was alone just before Christmas, and I recalled Joni Mitchell’s song River, and I endeavored to paint how that song made me feel.

River by Joni Mitchell

It’s coming on Christmas 
They’re cutting down trees 
They’re putting up reindeer 
And singing songs of joy and peace 
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on

It would be easy to say that what I am describing is what most people label as seasonal depression, but I believe that what I feel during December is more than that. For as long as I can remember, I have been deeply connected to nature, and I believe that what I feel during December is not deptression, but it is what the earth feels, as it sheds its leafiness and greenness and begins to lie fallow.

“…my heart is a desolate field over which geese vee, the sky turns and the days lie fallow…” ― John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

One Ditch: A Fishing Hole Back Home – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

And after November, comes December. For me, December is period of quietness and rest. It is a time that I wrap myself in a warm cocoon and begin to wait for the change that is not far ahead.

At the end of every December, I create a list of New Year’s Resolutions. While I never fully achieve every goal that I set for myself each year, I am not frivolous about my goal-setting. In fact, I spend weeks thinking about what my new set of goals will be for each year, and I also spend weeks thinking about why I have established each resolution. For me, goal-setting is like a purging. It is a process. It is a plan for regeneration in several areas that I need to improve. At least one of those areas always has to do with my own work ethic, and this year, I know exactly where I intend for my art and my writing to venture during 2019.

This year, I plan to finish illustrating at least 3 books that I wrote years ago, and it is a work goal that I should have accomplished soon after I wrote the books. One might surmise that a person who needs to complete a task should simply jump in there and do it, but along my journey, I have found myself delayed by the serveral winters of my life, and at each juncture, I have felt that before I could move forward again, I had no choice but to wait for each winter to end:

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some people liken Winter to Death. But I see Winter as a mere stage along the journey. It is not the journey’s end. Again, Winter is a period of lying fallow.

“To everything, there is a season.” [Ephesians 3:1]

A period of lying fallow is not a time of rotting and wasting away. Lying fallow is a stage of fertility. While a fallow field may seem to be dead, it is actually very busy soaking sunshine and rain. A fallow field is restoring itself. It is strengthening itself. It is preparing itself for the seed that will eventually find itself planted there. A fallow field is making ready.

And while December is a quiet and reflective and soul-searching time for me, it is not a sad time, and it is certainly not a time that I wither and die. For me, December is the moment just before Dawn.

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

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