Have Yourself a Melancholy Christmas


bittersweet wreath

It is likely a reflection of my personality that, as much as I love the holidays, I’ve always found them bittersweet.   And as I get older, it is truer than ever.  My precious Christmas memories are further behind me and just a little dimmer.  More of the actors in those memories are no longer with us.   It’s been years since I’ve had my son and daughter in the same house for Christmas.  My grandkids are growing fast, not babies anymore, they insist, although they are still my babies. And I find myself slowing down, unable to keep the holiday pace I used to.  And this year, we have the heartache of the tragedy in Newtown.  It is easy to find myself feeling melancholy instead of joyful.

Of course, I’m not alone.  If you take a moment to listen to the words to some of our cherished Christmas songs, you’ll see that they bring a little heartache with the smiles.  After all, we’re dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones we used to know.    We’ll be home for Christmas, if only in our dreams.   There’s a little heartache in the heart of the 92 year old when Nat King Cole wishes merry Christmas to kids from 1 to 92.  He knows he’s not a kid anymore.  And at the source, the holiday celebrates the birth of a child that we know will be crucified for his teachings.

If this seems like a dark post for the week before Christmas, it has a point to make.  If I want to bring my Mom along this Christmas, to remember the smell of her kitchen on Christmas Eve or the light the holidays put in her eyes, then I have to miss her and regret that I didn’t appreciate those evenings more as they happened.   If I want to relive going out with my Dad on Christmas Eve to collect presents from the relatives, I have to wipe a tear as I wish I could laugh at one more corny joke or smell the aroma of Half and Half tobacco on his coat.  If I want to absorb every ounce of joy from my grandkids on Christmas Day, I need to be aware how precious and fleeting those moments are … and wish I hadn’t taken such moments with my kids for granted years ago.

packageHave Yourself a Melancholy Christmas would be unlikely to make it as a traditional holiday song, but if I don’t let the melancholy in, I’m unlikely to have a merry little Christmas either.  Joy and sadness are inextricably linked and to the degree that I repress one, I repress the other.  If you’ll pardon the pun, Christmas is a package deal … and I intend to open it.

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2 Comments on “Have Yourself a Melancholy Christmas”

  1. mebal07 Says:

    We can always associate joy and sadness together in the same package, but it is always the side on which we are choosing to be that matters. I sure regret the moments myself too, of the times when I could’ve loved my parents a little more, fought with them a little less. But it’s always how you want things to turn out for you, and surprisingly they DO turn out to be that ways (:

    If you want to be with your grandchildren, go be with them. Same for your children. Don’t let the very fact that you’ve had had the realisation about what you should’ve done and what you probably could have bother you later on.

    Merry Christmas!

  2. cherperz Says:

    When I initially started my blog, it was with this thought of how often I view things from both the positive and the negative. I totally relate to what you are saying. For every joyous time there is a bittersweet aspect to it as well. Then there is the added component of aging. The realization that so much of life is behind us at this point makes us very nostalgic.

    I hope the joyousness out weighs the melancholy for you, Bud. Have a wonderful holiday, if I don’t get a chance to say it again.

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