Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Ghost...

I’m having trouble making the holiday cheer genuine this year. Recently, I found I needed, for the sake of my sanity, to relegate the past to the past, and consider today the first day of the rest of my life. I think that may be the problem. The holidays are all about nostalgia. Christmas really is for children, and we adults can’t help but realize it anew every year, when we go looking for the magic and find we wouldn’t be able to recognize it if it bit us in the ass. So we take these little journeys to our yesterdays, trying to convince ourselves that Christmases past really did hold all the wonder and enchantment we would like to remember. But when we examine the actual historical record, we find that perhaps those long ago holidays weren’t all that magical.
I remember snow, and Midnight Mass, and coming down the stairs early early on Christmas morning to be greeted by a living room piled high with gifts surrounding the tree. The quintessential sixties Christmas tree, with the multi-colored C7 lights (the ones with the twisted black and red cords); the lead tinsel (which the cat would consume and then cough up in sparkling puddles on the rug); the "heirloom" ornaments that my parents had amassed over twenty years of marriage. I remember "I spy an ornament," and the unique vinyl smell of brand-new baby dolls. I remember "cut-outs," and coloring books, and an apple and an orange stuffed in the toes of our stockings. Which we had laid out on the back of the couch before going to bed on Christmas Eve, because we didn’t have a fireplace.
But I also remember, for weeks before every day marked in red on the calendar, how my mother would turn into a total harpy, absolutely going over the edge from the stress of having to prepare the house to entertain over the holidays. Christmas was as much a time to dread as to anticipate. Later, when I was a teen, and she had started to drink…that made the holidays that much more enjoyable. As I reached my last years in high school, Christmas was about seeing how quickly you could ditch the family and go off and be…well, anywhere but home.
So, in the end, how many years really hold the magic that we long for as grown-ups? Five, maybe, if we’re really lucky? Between the ages of, perhaps, five and ten? That’s where my treasured memories lie, anyway. And I’m nearly fifty now. Five out of fifty. Why are those five SO important? SO vivid? SO wonderful that I’ve spent the forty years since, wishing beyond reason to have them back again?


  1. We all want them back and try to recreate them.  I've had some doozies since childhood.  My first love (who I loved with all the stregnth a 24 year old heart could have) broke up with me on Christmaas eve after three years together.  Christmas has never been the same for me again.  Incredible sadness would accompany it for a long time.

  2. I think we want it so bad because retailers taunt us with it.  All the advertisers pull at our heartstrings and show us snippets of the "perfect" Christmas we can have with their products.  We are bombarded with images so warm and heartfelt...and in this day and age, when most of us have everything BUT time...how could we not get caught up in the charm of it all.  Even if you've NEVER experienced a perfect Christmas...the visuals and the music play on our emotions.  We are engulfed with enchanting reminders of what Christmas "might" be from Thanksgiving on...and everywhere we look, everone is rushing around trying to achieve it.  It's almost impossible NOT to get caught up in the yearning.

  3. Last night someone mentioned a comment by someone else at an "Unplug the Christmas Tree" class last week: that all of our longings get rolled into Christmas, and it's a little bit difficult to deal with wishes for world peace, nuclear disarmament, an ipod, and a new digital camera all at once.  But then someone else pointed out that it's good that Christmas is so difficult -- the challenges make the real message more apparent.  Hmmmm ....maybe I need a JE about that.

  4. It's the "Hallmark" syndrome.  TV tells us it's supposed to be this wonderful perfect time.  Like the commercial on TV now where this guy gives his g/f a new car then she reaches into the glove compartment and gets a ring...  Oh Pulease! PFFT.  The trick is to not fall into it.. and it's tough.  ~Sie

  5. I know alot of ppl who feel this way. I think the Christmas season is so wonderful for me because I grew up a Jehovah's Witness and we didn't celebrate holidays. So now I feel all the magic every year. I am sure though that in a few more years I will be feeling the same way.


  6. I've never been one for Christmas. So, there aren't any that I'm trying to relive. But, I hear what you're saying and hope you find what you're looking for.

    Love the new pic! :-) ---Robbie