There I was, sitting in row three of the balcony, dead-center. It was the Phoenix Symphony Holiday Concert with the Phoenix Choir, and within seconds of the start of the song, tears began to form. Soon, I was searching for Kleenex in my purse to dab those I couldn’t blink back. The top of my mask absorbed the runaways. I never got close to a sob, but I felt my bottom lip quiver. Fortunately, the tears were gone by the final note.
“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know…”
Has that ever happened to you? A single song lets loose a string of memories tucked so deep inside, that when the gate opens, there is no controlling them.
I think it’s a longing. For what was, or maybe, what wasn’t.
I knew white Christmases as a child in Wisconsin, and loved the beauty of the snow, and the beauty of the love I felt in my family. My parents and the four of us kids would celebrate with church and some gifts on Christmas Eve, because the morning meant packing up the car and the four-hour drive to Milwaukee to Grandpa and Grandma’s. I never once remember not making it due to snow.
Once there, we’d steal some of Grandma’s ribbon candy from the candlewick bowl, and we’d stand back from the fireplace as Grandpa would throw on one of his logs, special for the holidays, with their colorful flames. Does anyone remember those?
At some point in our visit, we’d play with our cousins, and visit our other grandmother. I still have and cherish the silver berry spoon she gave me when I was a teenager, though at the time, I probably wanted a record by Herman’s Hermits.
“Where the treetops glisten, and children listen, to hear sleigh bells in the snow.”
The last time my family celebrated Christmas together was 1972 – 49 years ago. And every year I think of that, I grieve the loss of what was – family celebrations and traditions, and what might have been, had our family unit continued to gather.
“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, with every Christmas card I write.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I have a wonderful life. Matter of fact, I am living my best life, but trust me, Norman Rockwell has never come knocking on my door during the holidays. And sometimes, that’s been hard.
So what’s the point of this? Cherish the fond memories you have, and do what you can to keep making more of them, for yourself, and others. Looking back, I wish I’d made more of an effort to return from Michigan to southwest Wisconsin to spend time with family. I can never get that time back with my sisters, their husbands and my nieces and nephews.
The holidays can be tough for some people for a variety of reasons. Still invite them, or at the very least, call them! Honor their tears if they shed any, and respect if they’d prefer to stay home and eat a package of white fudge covered Oreo’s.
“May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white, or ocean blue, or desert brown, or mountain green.”