I'll admit it: I've never been a big fan of December. The weather is usually cold here, and it gets dark around 4 pm. Traffic is brutal (everyone doing their last-minute holiday shopping), and the majority of the mail I get seems to be asking for donations (I had no idea there were so many worthy causes). And yet, for the past few years, I find myself feeling a lot kinder towards December, because it was in that month that two memorable events occurred.
One of those memorable events occurred on a Tuesday afternoon, 11 December 2012. I was sitting in a faculty meeting, when suddenly my cellphone began to vibrate. Most of my friends know I'm at work during the day, so I rarely get calls. I remember thinking it must be an emergency of some kind, but when I stepped out of the room to see what was going on, it was a number of Rush fans, as well as radio and TV stations, letting me know the guys had finally been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The next day, I got interviewed by CTV in Toronto, and then several Boston stations, and the Boston Globe and the Quincy Patriot-Ledger... Rush's management called me... it was quite a week, to say the least. After the initial shock wore off (so many of us had worked for so long, lobbying the Rock Hall, and it took far too long for Rush to get the respect they deserved), I had time to rejoice with the world-wide community of Rush fans, culminating four months later, with the induction ceremony in Los Angeles. And though it's now been six years since that day when I got the news, it seems like only yesterday, and every year, I am reminded of it when December rolls around.
The other memorable event was quite different: it took place on a Wednesday morning, 17 December 2014, the day I had surgery for cancer. In late November, I had received the phone call no-one wants to get; but once I knew what I had, the doctors wanted to attack it aggressively. Interestingly, I had an all-female medical team: the oncologist, anesthesiologist, and all the nurses were women. And fortunately for me, the news was encouraging: I had a type of cancer that, since it was caught early, would be very treatable. Still, it was a scary time for me, as I'm sure you can understand. After I had the surgery, it was followed by a month of out-patient radiation (no fun, but necessary). During that period of time, I was greatly comforted by my faith, and by the kindness of my husband (who baked me wonderful pies to cheer me up); but what also meant a lot was my friends-- many of whom are members of that previously-mentioned world-wide community of Rush fans. I'm about to be four years cancer-free now, and while I still have times when I worry, what comes up for me each December is a feeling of gratitude-- no matter how many frustrations and problems I may have, it's still good to be alive. I appreciate every day, and I try to use it for a positive purpose.
And if I have a message to share, it's this: you really can't predict what's going to happen. It might be a wonderful experience (like finding out my favorite band was finally inducted into the Rock Hall and I was invited to be there); or it might be a frightening experience (like finding out that I had cancer). But the wheel turns, and things rarely stay the same. I say this because some people at this time of year are feeling depressed, or they miss someone they've lost; or perhaps they just don't like December. All I can say is, when you least expect it, things can, and do, get better. And when you think you are alone, you're really not-- there are people who care about you. One of them wrote this blog post. And however you spend this holiday season, may you find reasons to be cheerful... and reasons to be grateful.