November 11th, 2011
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The people I love.
I’m hesitant to admit this, because I make fun of these people every year, but I’m secretly playing holiday music already. And in that vein, I’ve noticed that holiday commercials are airing earlier than usual. Is it just me? It’s not even the middle of November yet, and I’m already feeling Christmas. Thank God, too, because in all honesty, the last few years have rushed by without me getting in the spirit at all. I hate writing that, I really do. Because as I put the words down, I realize that I haven’t been in the Christmas mood for more than just a few years. It’s been since 1997.
Wow. There’s some honesty for you. I wasn’t even aware of that myself until I read it right now. But it makes sense I suppose, because 1997 was the year my mom passed away. It was November 10, just weeks before Thanksgiving and Christmas. No one in the family felt much like celebrating, so the four of us kids and my dad escaped to Lake Tahoe for a week to avoid the heaviness of what being home meant. We spent Christmas Eve at an Italian restaurant, each of us alone together, numb and clutching at the ghost of the person who should have been in the sixth chair.
Since that year, a lot’s happened. I got married, had two kids, moved to the town I live in now. But the holidays have this…sad aura…about them now. Christmas was my mom’s favorite holiday. She draped tinsel, lit candles, and hummed carols, usually the day after Halloween. Once we all moved out of the house and into college dorms, she’d call us first thing November 1, excitedly planning when we’d be home for the holidays and could we stay a few extra weeks? Maybe go see the Nutcracker with her? Or to midnight mass?
I miss that, and her, and how I used to feel at Christmas.
So I suppose my inner self decided to not feel Christmas anymore.
But then, my dad got sick. Just last month, in October of this year, I rushed to be with him in the hospital — all of us kids did — and I all at once realized how I’d closed myself off to…feeling. Sitting in the hospital, considering the passage of time, and the temporariness of the hours you have with the people you love, and that shutting down doesn’t protect you, it prevents you; considering all that, I unfolded. Quite in spite of myself, the spigot of emotion opened again, and it hurt and it sucked and it was great.
My dad is all right. I’ll see him again for the holidays. Because I can’t escape Christmas, and its memories of those I loved who aren’t here with me now. I HAVE people I love with me now. Right now.
So I’m playing holiday music early.
This post was meant to be about holiday comforts. And so it is. Because what more is there this time of year – any time of year – than the people you love and who love you, wherever they may be.
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