Happenings on the December calendar

December goes by in a blur. It’s a month that disappears in record time.  Where does December go, anyway?  One minute we’re just starting to think about Christmas shopping, and the next minute it’s New Year’s Day.
Of course, the smart thing to do is start thinking about Christmas in October and November. Plan ahead, get organized, start your shopping early and do it gradually to reduce shopping stress.   It’s also smart to put up the outside Christmas lights when the weather is still mild. Sure. Right. So much for those wonderfully theoretical ideas.
Once again, the best laid plans and intentions have slipped through the October and November calendar days and we’re faced with the usual break-neck schedule of December “Christmas prep.” Good luck, keep calm and take a moment here to ponder the great, near-great, and really obscure events of  Decembers past.
• December 3, 1939 — How’s this for a strange moment in football?
The NFL’s Eastern Division title was on the line and the Washington Redskins tried a field goal that would have given them a one point victory over the New York Giants. The kick was good, the teams shook hands and the Redskins won. But wait! Despite what the players and fans had all seen clearly, the referee, Bill Halloran, signaled that the kick was “no good,” and so — twisted as the victory  was — the Giants  won. 
Halloran was soon fired by the league.
• December 6, 1917— Two thousand people died in Canada's worst disaster when a shipload of ammunition exploded in Halifax harbour. 
• December 8, 1980 — It was on this day that we were all shocked to learn that singer and songwriter John Lennon had been murdered outside his apartment block  in New York City.
• December 15, 1964 — Parts of the prairies were struck by a wild blizzard that killed three people and over 1,000 livestock. The blizzard combined heavy snow with winds up to 90 km/h and bitterly cold temperatures of -34°C.
• December 21 — The  official  beginning of winter. The announcement of the arrival of the winter solstice — after winter has been with us for quite a while — is just a tad redundant, don’t you think?
• December 24, 1879 — It was on this Christmas Eve that Winnipeg recorded it’s coldest-ever temperature. It was a night to be curled up in front of the fire and the Christmas tree because the thermometer sank to a teeth-chattering -48°C. In those bygone days, that reading was known as “54 below” Fahrenheit.
• December 25 — Christmas Day!  It’s amazing how many distinctive seasonal celebrations there are in different parts of the world. In addition to our traditional Christmas celebration here at home, there’s also Sinterklaus Day in the Netherlands; Hanukkah, the annual Jewish spiritual celebration; St. Nicholas Day through much of Europe; Posadas in Mexico; Kwanzaa, an African-American cultural  celebration; Ta Chiu, the Taoist Festival of Peace; and Yule, the celebration of the winter solstice. But I’m sure there are many others that I’ve yet to stumble upon.
• December 31 — Do you realize that every year on this special night that millions of people across the world go out to New Year’s Eve parties?  
That’s a staggering figure!