December is the month of exposure. I have just decided this today. It is the season of unselfish giving, but it is also the season of painful vulnerability.
Here in the Midwest, it's getting cold. We've had a very mild fall/early winter, but December now (the two whole days we've been in it) has been a bit more raw, gray, and bare. Really, just like a December should be.
So...exposed in that sense of the word. 'Tis the season of not-enough layers to stop a biting, gnashing winter wind. Exposed in the sense that any bare skin from now until March is subject to the brutality of the elements.
And...because it's Christmas, it's the month of spending. Of generosity. Which is usually a good, great thing. 'Tis the spirit of giving, right? But, on the other side of the coin, we are also exposed to that darker side of the giving season...in which we give too much, take too much...and we suffer the excesses of that indulgence. We eat too much, we spend too much money, we drink too much...exposed to the consequences we inevitably know will follow. Hangovers, weight gains, high credit cards bills. Etc.
Then, here in my little corner of the world, there have been two tragedies that, while not affecting me directly, have still left me exposed. And there is no month like December for amplifying tragedy. Both of these tragedies have torn away loved ones, leaving those behind without husbands or wives or sons or daughters. I think those losses are felt much more acutely in December...where Christmas, a holiday that emphasizes family and togetherness, only serves to sharpen the loss of those who experience it. I still have a very close relationship with my parents, and both of my in-laws are still alive. And I have had forty-some Christmases with my parents, twenty-some with my in-laws...and so my Christmases have been the stuff of Hallmark cards for decades. For others, this is their first Christmas without a loved one...and for those people here? for whom the tragedy struck just this week? they will still be in tiny, jagged pieces when the holidays come around in a couple of weeks. For December also seems to be the time when an emotional exposure is also more likely. We seem to feel everything much more markedly. Our hearts and souls are exposed down right to the nerve and cold and wind.
And so, when Elvis Presley sings of a Blue Christmas...I totally feel him.