Welcome to the first of December. Most years the first of December is the 335th day of the year, but this year, since it is a leap year, it is the 336th day of the year. Having an extra day in the year means that it took us a full day longer to get to December 1 than is the case in other years. Personally, I didn’t notice the difference. It seems like it came around rather quickly. I’m just getting used to 2016 and I’m looking at having to adjust to 2017. Part of that is a pure function of age. When you are 2 years old, a year is half a lifetime. When you are 63, the percentage is significantly smaller. There is, however, more to the phenomenon than just age. Social scientists tell us that the rate of change is accelerating. We notice it particularly with technology. The latest gadget is soon considered obsolete not because it has ceased to function but because newer gadgets perform more functions.

I’m not concerned with keeping up. I’m perfectly content to have a phone that is a couple of models back from the latest. I call my 5 year old truck “new,” and enjoy the look on the service technician’s face when I bring in my 17-year-old car for an oil change. When he asks how long the “check engine” light has been on I can’t remember, but it has been more than a year. I once had a pickup that I drove 60,000 miles with the check engine light on. I’m pretty sure that a persistent warning light on his dashboard would drive that technician up the wall.

When we moved into our current house, we were pleased that it didn’t come with appliances. It gave us the opportunity to get a new refrigerator, something we’d never previously had. That refrigerator is now older than any of those others refrigerators. It doesn’t have LED lighting. In fact, its getting hard to find the old style screw-in lightbulbs that it requires. The food is still cold and we could always look for it in the dark if we can’t get light bulbs in the future.

Sometimes I pay attention to small details that are probably unimportant. For example, there are 52 weeks in the year, but it doesn’t come out exactly. A regular year is 52 weeks and one day and a leap year is 52 weeks and two days. Since 2017 starts on a Sunday, the extra day is a Sunday and so January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017 are both Sundays making 53 Sundays in the year. The people who give monthly to support the church aren’t likely to notice it, but a few of the folks who give weekly might. I receive an annual salary divided into 12 monthly payments, so it won’t affect my income, but I’ll be leading one more worship service during the year, so I’m a slightly better buy for the congregation in 2017 than I was in 2016. I doubt that many of the folks will notice that, except of course those who read this blog.

The name “December” is a bit deceiving since the word comes from the Latin decem, or 10. On our calendar it is the 12th month, not the 10th. It got its name from the old Roman calendar, which began with March, making December the 10th month. If you think about the cycle of seasons, you can understand how they might have chosen March to be the beginning with days getting longer and new plants appearing. January and February can get pretty old around here some years.

I don’t anticipate traveling very much in December this year. It is a good time to stay home. Despite a year with above average temperatures, we’ll still probably see a bit of winter weather sometime during the year and December through February are the most likely months. The high winds combined with just a bit of snow this week to close some local roads and more of that will come in time. Some of our snow birds have already headed south for the winter. I’ve never felt attracted to that particular lifestyle. I have trouble keeping up with one home. Two seems like more work that I want to take on. Besides I like winter. I’ve got good boots and warm clothing and there is plenty to do outdoors when the temperatures are cold. Driving to and from work in the dark gets a bit old after a while but that doesn’t last for long. That’s another advantage of getting older - winters don’t seem to last as long as they used to.

All in all the coming of a new month isn’t very dramatic around here. I rose at the same time and am sitting at the same desk, though writing today’s blog is slower than some days. As you can tell, I really didn’t have much of a subject in mind when I got up. I’m not planning any really big, life-changing events. I need to save some energy for next year when I’ve got that extra Sunday to contend with.

Winter is a time for a lot of festivals. When we spend enough time indoors, we begin to plan parties. The winter solstice lands on December 21 this year and for those who are paying attention the days will start to get longer after that day. The dating of our Christmas celebrations has its origins in the observances of solstice. Winter is a good time for bonfires and hot beverages. For me it is also a good time for curling up with a good book and finding the right place on the living room floor where the sun is warming the carpet.

Happy December, folks. May you find a warm spirit to offset the cold temperatures outdoors. May you travel safely when you need to travel and enjoy your home when you don’t need to roam.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!