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  • Writer's pictureTracey Lee


December is a complicated month with all its expectation and sense of finality. It’s all about Christmas, holidays, summer, the promise of a new year and inevitably the need for some reflection.

I’m a teacher; ergo December is synonymous with the last two weeks of the school year. This time of the year is peopled with exhausted kids who have foolishly been led to believe that once assessment is the bag, learning has ceased for the year. Teachers are barely hanging on to the last threads of sanity as they try to illuminate the importance of learning for the sake of it while writing school reports that now resemble novellas. And school administrators who want you to make a cogent decision about timetabling for the following year. Not to mention providing you with the schedule for the professional development days that are the highlight of every first term. We haven’t finished before we start thinking about beginning!

And December is summer in Australia. Weather is complicated down under. It starts with the promise of balmy sunny days with only the gentlest of sea breezes to cool the long days on the beach. It creates a longing that can only be satisfied by making it to the first day of the holidays. It is a promise that is tempered with reality as the following days reach 38 degrees and humidity in the 80s. Followed by a torrential rain storm that blows in and causes a flood ruining all visions of beach reclining. Then topped off by temperatures plummeting to 16 and sending everyone looking for those jumpers that were thoughtfully stowed away on the first hot day.

But summer does come. We barbeque, we beach, we rest and refuel. And by April we are sick of the heat and the ubiquitous drought and look forward to winter rain and coolness.

December is also a month for reflection and sometimes sadness. Its obvious joys are balanced with the sadness of losses. We remember those who won’t be present at the table. For some it is a recent gap that has been created, for others of us there have been years to make the adjustment but the empty chairs are still empty.

My family also has one other December anniversary that we acknowledge. Fifteen years ago my brother-in-law was critically injured in a car accident. He was not expected to survive as his brain injury was devastating. Christmas that year came and went in the ICU of the Canberra Hospital, the New Year the same. And the months that followed were arduous ones of waiting and hoping. Rodney survived his injuries despite the dire predictions of his medical team but the hard yards were ahead for him and his family. It wasn’t the Christmas we were expecting.

Accidents are life changing events and this month is full of them. Some injuries are forever and impact on whole families for life. December is a month when Australians are on the road in record numbers. We flee the cities and head to the coast. People speed, make inconsiderate moves and lose concentration when driving. I am amazed at the flagrant disregard people have for their own safety and the lives of other people. In December when we are meant to be demonstrating good will and basking in the warmth of long summer holidays some of us will drive dangerously; some people will pay for those hazardous decisions. All I can say is: please drive carefully so that you can enjoy the best of December and the holidays and burst into the New Year with optimism and joy.

Please stay safe.

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