On Christmas, Spirit and the Holiday Season in 2018

Full disclosure everyone: I’ve had a bear of a time getting into Christmas this year. I guess it’s understandable. 2018 hasn’t exactly been a status quo year for your old buddy the Madchronicler. It’s been a year of monumental change and anyone that’s been keeping up over the last few months knows what I’m talking about. So I’m not going to rehash everything herein. It would be counterproductive and, quite frankly (pun intended), exhausting both to you AND me. But this Christmas thing? My lack of spirit? Yes. It deserves… A rumination. Or a blog entry. So? Here we are.

On the surface? Christmas 2018 is not and has not been much different than in previous years. I started early with the decorating and the music. I even had the bulk of my shopping done pre-December. By design: I wanted to FEEL it this year. I needed it. After everything I’ve been through it was neccesary. And every time the minions were over? I wanted them to feel it, as well. And I feel like they have. I’ve always had this vision of how I wanted my home to look at Christmas time. It’s a combination of too many old movies (“White Christmas” remains a personal fave) and that scene in “Star Trek Generations” where Picard wakes up in the Nexus and has a confab with Whoopi Goldberg, AKA Guinan (I hope I spelled that right). If you’ve seen it you know the scene I’m talking about. And if you haven’t? I can’t recommend it. It’s not a very good movie. But it’s worth Googling the scene. Really. Its organic. Warm. And downright beautiful. Did I get there? As much as I could. There was no way I was fitting a ski lodge or a carousel in my living room.

But I digress. Despite it all, there was still something… Off. Not necessarily missing but… Askew. That’s the best way I can and could describe it. It felt empty. Without substance. Superficial. And after a lot of thought I was able to key on a couple of reasons why. Loneliness? Yes. A silence 50 percent of the time that I was and may never get used to, and no matter how many times I watched “Elf” or “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation…” No matter how many times I listened to the Jethro Tull Christmas album or Michael Buble, that silence remained. It hung around me like a putrid cloud of pine and spice scented Christmas dung and try as I might? I couldn’t shake it. I even considered listening to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and to anyone that knows me? That’s enough for you to question my mental health. But I didn’t. I let it play out and it lingered.

Honestly? It came to a head this past Sunday night. I couldn’t sleep. At almost midnight I decided to go for a drive to the local WAWA for a Powerade Zero. I got there only to find that they did not have Powerade Zero. I was forced to settle for sugared-up, Lemon Lime Gatorade. Thereafter I drove around for a bit, sipping my drink, my radio set to B101 and heard everything from “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole to “Winter Wonderland” by the Eurythmics. I looked at the lights on the houses in my new neighborhood. Nothing. Eventually I returned home and with the assistance of a late night, hot shower and a half hour or so of reading, I was able to nod off for a few hours before my 6:30AM alarm abruptly summoned me back to another week of work. Obligation. Responsibility. All the things we adults abhor like the Plague, or Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”

And still there remained that emptiness. All the way up until a few hours ago when suddenly? Everything changed.

Tonight was my oldest minion Cara’s Choir Recital and this year was a big one because at last, FINALLY she got her much sought after solo. The song was not one that I was familiar with pre-her being awarded her big moment a few weeks ago. “Season Of Peace.” I’ve mentioned before how proud I am of my girls… Of their resilience and their drive to succeed. But the way Cara threw herself into the task of learning and polishing her part? It was next level, guys and gals. I swear that not 10 minutes of wakefulness went by in the last few weeks without her singing it in some capacity. Tweaking it. Making it hers. And tonight, when she stepped up to the microphone at the 2:52-2:53 mark of the song, adjusted the mic stand (like a boss), smiled and opened her mouth, I swear to you, friends and sometimes readers? It hit me. Her voice. The lights lining the walls of the Parish Hall and the prevelance of red, green and “sparkly” outfits surrounding me and on display before me. It was Christmas. At LAST. Everything took on a deeper hue. There was warmth. And I felt… Full. To be honest? I even teared up a little. Just misty. No full blown, “It’s A Wonderful Life” ugly cry. Finally.

She finished her solo, they finished the song, we all cheered and the concert went on for a while. But that moment? I was lost in it. Sh*t, I still am, even now, as I sit here in my sunroom under a blanket, drinking a Powerade Zero and typing these words while “Elf” plays on mute in the background. I realized something tonight. Something that has alluded me this Christmas season. You can’t force it, folks. The spirit of the season? It will arrive when you’re most ready for it. It always has. But I was so focused on it this year I… Basically? I overcompensated. I was subconsciously course correcting my life from what it is NOW to what it was before. And that life? It’s behind me now. I get it. Now? There is only this… what surrounds me daily, and what lies ahead. New adventures. A little chaos. Hopefully no more heartbreak (I’ve had enough of that in my 43 plus years on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence). I’ve been so focused these last few months on letting life come to me. I forgot to let Christmas do the same.

That’s the moral of this story, everyone. Different is okay. Maybe better in the long run? Who knows. Only time will tell. There will be moments of loneliness. There will be days where I miss my minions and feel empty, ensconced in the putrid stench of candy canes and Harvest Wreath Yankee Candles. There will be moments where Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas but really? The key is to cherish the moments when it does. Live IN them. Live FOR them. Because they will sustain you. And when all else fails?

Well sh*t, there’s always “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Tonight, as I was driving back to Swarthmore from the concert, I turned on B101 and low and behold? There it was. I’ve avoided it all season. Longer than I ever have before. But tonight? Just this one time, I’ll admit? I smiled, turned up the volume, rolled down my windows and sang…

“I don’t want a LOT for Christmas, there’s one thing I’m asking for…”

Merry Christmas, everyone. Happy Hanukkah, and have a blessed holiday.

F.

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