Deep in December

Five years ago today, our traditional Christmas dinner party with friends. We did not know it was the last time we would all be together at Christmas.  December 21, 2008

Five years ago today, our traditional Christmas dinner party with friends.
We did not know it was the last time we would all be together at Christmas.
December 21, 2008

“Deep in December it’s nice to remember
Although you know the snow will follow
Deep in December it’s nice to remember
Without a hurt the heart is hollow…”

— (Lyricist) Tom Jones, from The Fantasticks

I grew up listening to this lovely song, and Jeff and I saw the staged musical on one of our first dates.  Although the message of its words rang true to me in my youth, I did not fully understand them until recent years.

Holidays are fraught with bittersweet memories of times forever gone.  Whether the years we remember are recent or decades ago, no small part of their poignancy is the sense of how unaware we must have been; how little we sensed that these hours and days would soon vanish, never to fully return.  The irony is that we can lose ourselves in these ruminations while even now, the days that are passing may well be times we will someday look back on with an equally strong feeling of nostalgia.

I have told Jeff I hope and believe we will look back on this Christmas season as the time when everything changed; when we felt he was given his life back, with a fair chance of living far beyond the “two years with treatment” predicted over a year ago.  Of course, any number of things could happen to change that.  Knowing this, we cherish each day and savor each moment to the fullest extent possible.

Look around you today, at the people, places and events of your life you value most.  Today they are yours!  Even as we think with wistful gratitude of times that have passed, I hope we will embrace the beautiful, ephemeral present, with all its joys and sorrows.

One year ago today

As if it cost a fortune


  1. HarryS

    Just want you to know how much I look forward each and every day to being with you on your epic journey.

    • Thank you, Harry! I appreciate your kind comments, and especially I’m thankful to know you are visiting here!

  2. Sherry and I practiced it over and over: “When the moon was young;
    When the month was May, and the stage was hung for my holiday;
    I saw shining lights, but I never knew . . .”

    • I never did figure out why you chickened out on singing that at our wedding, but no matter; Maggie’s Daddy did a great job with “Sunrise, Sunset” and “The Wedding Song.” Standards, though…I bet we might have been the only ones I knew of who had “They Were You” as a wedding song. Perfect for Jeff and me.

  3. Julia, you are so good to always look for new understanding of phrases you have mechanically known for years. Your sentence, “Today they are yours!” helps me to understand the first half of Acts 5:4 – Thank You. 

    • Yes, there are many layers of meaning to most everything in the Bible, as in much literature as well. I think that’s part of what is meant when we refer to scriptures as “living and active.” The search for meaning, by its very nature, is never a static thing; there are absolute truths, but those truths will be relevant in different ways at different times — and truth is such a huge thing, we are almost certainly unable to grasp it all at once, if ever fully.

  4. raynard

    Julia, I think all need a good laugh now.( I’ll tell you why in a minute)First, when you get a chance, read this blog of mind.( it hints of how my first day of vacation is going lol) 2, did you and Jeff see these two commericals. Jean Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris( I suspect Jeff will like this one better. and…( the song by the way is By Inya and it’s called Only Time who say where the road goes and yes this Shakespeare you hear in the Chuck Commercial.

    ( Im still stuck on Schoolhouse Rock Conjuction Juction well I did grow up riding the subways of NYC lol. ( Can you imagine me on a cable car in San Fransisco not singing”Tony Bennett I left my heart in San Fransisco but’ Rice a Roni “The San Fransisco Treat I digress. Be blessed and thank you as always( Have a great Day)…

    • Raynard, I’ll have to ask Jeff if he has seen these commercials – he watches TV almost every day, at least the news, so he may have seen them. I think the Chuck Norris commercial must have been a parody of the Van Damme one – kind of a wake up call to people who thought the Volvo stunt was real and not digitally altered. Very interesting, in any case. This is how ignorant I am: if you had not told me that was Van Damme, I would not have known. I would pass him on the street and not recognize him, although I vaguely recognize Chuck Norris. I love the NYC subways but I left my heart on the Powell and Mason line in SFO! I just love the cable cars and if you ride them when they’re not overcrowded (which is rare) and have a day or month pass, it’s a pretty good way to get around. I never realized how much better you can see the city when you’re sitting sideways and have no glass between you and the people and things passing by.

  5. Ann

    What a beautiful sentiment and so well said.

    Thank you for continuing your blog even the days of just a picture and a link to last year. I know your days are full to overflowing and hope the time you carve out to work on your blog is a time of peace for you and not a chore.

    Today’s is especially meaningful to me.

    Happy Solstice Day!

    • Thank you Ann, I am so happy you found today’s post meaningful. I do find my time on the blog to be a respite for me, not a chore, and the things I am staying busy with the past few days (mostly getting ready for Christmas, wrapping gifts, decorating the tree etc.) are joyful as well. I hope to make time to actually get out and walk on this lovely Solstice day – we have sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures here in Virginia.

  6. raynard

    Oh the link for that blogrescue fire truck, ChristianBlog.Com
    Disclaimer ‘Help, I need somebody..Help, not just anybody..Help you know I need someone
    ,Help..One of my all time favorite T.V shows was called ‘Emergency”. It told the story of 2
    Firemen John Gage and Roy Desoto how they became paramedics. They both had specialized
    training in rescue in difficult and challenging situtations not just fires .The “squad’ as they referred
    to was basically small work truck that carried alot of various specialized tools to perform any
    task they were assigned. Over the years as I became interested in the job as a hobby of a
    professional firefighter, their skills and training increased, the trucks got bigger. They carried
    more tools and became”toolboxes on wheels”..It got me thinking about the last 5 months.

    The people in my life, children, other family members, friends, neighbors and co workers on
    the job. We say that “we love and care about them. We see and hear them make not so
    smart and wise choices and decisions daily about their life and think we have to”rescue” them.
    I could say something like”when you learned to walk, you fell a few times.. Or when you learned
    how to ride a bike.. Better yet, I like the one about 2 drunks trying to help each other up.
    (and no I wont start singing Aretha Franklin’s song ‘Rescue Me” either)

    I once read a story about a someone I believe was in the United States Coast Guard.
    You might of seen the perform water rescue with a helicopter hovering above someone
    trapped in some flood waters. The person was saying that if someone was drowning
    and you are trying to swim to safety with them,if they don’t stop panicking and flailing
    their arms wildly, you both can go under and drown. Moral to the story, sometimes
    you have to put space and distance between you and others to keep a peace of mind
    and”dont get overwhelmed and drown in ‘their world of being drained mentally”.

    Enjoying a peaceful day off, not on the phone much, texting or “busy doing too much
    of nothing or stuff’’.Thank God for pets like mine who show you love ( when you walk
    and feed them on time lol) May everyone who read this be blessed

    • Raynard, I agree totally. It’s so important to take breaks now and then, and also to focus our efforts to help people in a direction that is genuinely helpful, not placing us or them at further risk. Not always an easy distinction to make. My sister’s husband is a minister who is also a volunteer first responder, in a rural area where such volunteers are absolutely essential. It would be interesting to talk to him sometime about the parallels he has seen between people who are in need of rescue in a physical sense, vs. in a spiritual sense, or maybe (sometimes) both. I know he has seen a lot of interesting things. He also knew the heartbreak of being called to respond to help a dear friend and fellow paramedic who had a massive heart attack and could not be saved. The moral to that story is, even when one does not need or want to put any distance, one still must be prepared for pain in any relationship. Life is beautiful but hard and dangerous, and ultimately, nobody gets out of this world alive (in the physical sense) though many of us believe the spirit never dies. Part of learning to survive the sorrows that go along with life lies in being able to find places of respite as you mention. I agree with you that our pets are marvelous gifts from God; I believe they are created especially to give us unique blessings found nowhere else. Blessing to you too, and thanks for being here with us.

  7. Michael

    There was in interesting story on NPR yesterday about how many of our most cherished Xmas songs-such as “Dreaming of a White Xmas.” came out of, or around the WW2 era when many families were shattered or separated by time and circumstance. Of course that continues today with our military families who sacrifice in so many ways. There is an article in Readers Digest celebrating 2014 hopes as a time when many of our troops come home from harms way. That it may be true is also my hope for 2014. God bless our troops and may many come home this next year.

    • Michael, I share that hope, and I also have a new awareness (from Walter Reed NMMC) that we need to hope and pray that they not only come home, but are able to return to a happy, healthy life away from constant and immediate danger, and for those who are physically wounded, a quick adjustment to their new ways of living. Getting them home is only part of the challenge; many of them face steep uphill battles once they return. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers for them, and for sharing them here.

  8. How very right you are. It usually crosses my mind everyday, how fleeting life is and how precious every person is.

    • Thank you, SimplySage! I feel the same way, and a parallel thought is to realize with never-ending amazement, how many many many people there are, and each one unique! Thanks for being here – I appreciate your comment.

  9. Julia, you seem to tap into what so many of us feel. 2008 was a rough year for our family as well. My sister, who has MS, fell and broke her hip. My mother and father in law both died that June. My Aunt Alys died that August and my mom died three days after Christmas. By the end of that year, every phone call made me jump. It seemed every call brought further news…falls, hospitalizations, comas, rehab. I’ve done a better job this season than most, not dwelling on the loss and grief. I stay involved with my husband and boys, friends and neighbors. Giving to others in need helps too. Thanks for your lovely post. I admire your strength and courage.

    • Alys, that sounds like the sort of year that would be very hard to recover from. I’m glad you have found ways to heal and focus on joyful things. I’ve always wondered why it often seems that so many sorrows come to us all at once. Maybe it only seems that way, but there are definitely years that go way over the top of the stress scale. I appreciate your kind words and visits here. We all have these times of woe upon woe, and sharing our stories of survival can be a real source of strength. Thanks for being with us here!

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