Everyone surely has played this game…take letters from a chosen word and see how many other words you can derive from it. December for instance—beer, crème, deer, red, and so on. True, embrace is not spelled with an ‘e’, but to make my point, embrece December. This month patiently waits on eleven others to begin its display of snowy, bristled, glittery, at times costly, sleds, skates, hot cocoa, icy roads, snowplows, and aromas that fill an entire house. One can do much with December.
For me and many in my family, it also ages us. We have several December birthdays. By now, that is the one thing of this eight-letter month I have come to despise. But as a kid, it held all the wonders I could shake in a snow globe. Holiday vacation from school was the first and foremost. I guess that is where my list-making began. I used my tablet from school and filled pages with things to do; an uncle who tied sleds behind his small tractor and pulled us over the icy country roads, skating on one of their ponds, digging tunnels through huge snowdrifts with cousins, following deer tracks across fields and over fences, spotting and counting bright red cardinals, glorious snowball fights, being fussed over in fear of catching cold, hot cocoa, warm fires in stoves, popcorn balls, chocolate fudge and peanut brittle, and more pages to be filled!
Once again I look through treasures that have been passed on to me from the writing world of relatives. One of my paternal great-grandmothers began a diary which is entitled, Diary of Lois Orr, January 20, 1897. Here are a few passages from her December of that first year.
Dec 4- Froze up last night and the ground and trees are covered with ice. The men can’t hardly stand up.
Dec 8 – Perry took the carriage down to get it mended up a little. I made the boys some candy. I have got a white heliotrope in bloom.
Dec 14 – Went to town. Roads bad and getting worse.
Dec 22 – Me and Perry went to town in the sled.
Dec 31 – gone.
Lois’s last entry was on March 14, 1936. She became ill and passed away eight days later on March 21 of what was thought to be scarlet fever. Her recordings reflect hardship, love, humor, slim times, craftiness, generosity, and much more.
My mother as she read through this diary took lines from the recorded 866 pages and wrote a very long poem to capture many of these moments.
Here is a passage to share December…
without fail, the wind will blow
a perfect gale.
My how it blew
this perfect hurricane
and right behind
snow, sleet, and rain.
Oh what chunks of gloom
The sky is sad, people sick
And the roads are bad.
Gather the eggs, the chickens fed
sat by the fire
a good book read.
The children are coming
husbands and wives
the kiddies and goodies
and forks and knives.
My what a blessing
we’ve had year to year
for just being here.