What does December mean to you?

December is the last month in the Gregorian calendar. It is the month with the shortest daylight hours of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the longest daylight hours of the year in the Southern Hemisphere. It is winter in Minnesota and summer in Peru. In December, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, Jews celebrate Hanukah, and African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa. Most of the world seems to be celebrating something in December. Gift-giving and shopping are the defining factors for many of us at this time of the year.

In Minnesota, we probably have our motorcycles and boats put away and have taken out our snowmobiles and ice-fishing houses. Ice skating and skiing help us pass the long cold five months of winter. Some call Minnesota, the land of two seasons: Winter is coming and Highway Construction. In the past, there was never any question about a white Christmas, but with the global climate changes, winter in Minnesota is not what it used to be. Increasingly, we wait for the first major snowfall and wonder if we will have a white Christmas or even be able to get out and do much skiing or snowmobiling. For some of us, we miss the winters of time gone by. Others are perhaps not sure if global warming is really all that bad when winter becomes less snowy and milder.

The snowbirds will not really care though, since at the first sign of winter, many of them have bought their tickets to Miami or Phoenix where they will plan to spend the winter. This is not a choice for those who are poor or who are not retired. They must face whatever the winter will throw at them. However, even with global warming, we will get some good storms and some sub-zero temperatures. We may even be able to talk about how bad the winters were when we were young.

What are your memories of winter? What characteristics of December most stand out in your mind? What do you most look forward to during this time of the year? What traditions are most important to you? Have you added any new traditions for your family?

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