Christmas is my favorite holiday. No surprise. It’s a lot of people’s favorite holiday. I grew up in a house without a lot of money, so we never got a ton of presents. Since I became a parent I’ve sort of overdosed on making my kids’ Christmas dreams come true. It’s been healing and fun to fill the tree with just about everything they ever wanted….year after year. No one is more excited than I am to rush to the tree Christmas morning and let the unwrapping of magic commence. I honestly can’t sleep just thinking about it!
Now I’m old enough that I’ve lost people I love. Some have been lost to death. Some have simply been lost. Both are painful. And for some reason Christmas makes all loss that much more tactile…palpable…visceral. I believe Charles Dickens said it best, “Remembrance, like a candle, burns brightest at Christmastime.” Damn if that isn’t true.
So maybe today you have mixed emotions about Christmas. Maybe the joyous occasion is tinged with a touch of a pensive sadness you can’t quite explain. Maybe you are missing a loved one, or a past love, or a dear friend. Maybe you are feeling a sort of emptiness from being unable to maintain all of the relationships you want to devote time and energy to but the realities of life are keeping you from it. Maybe, despite the overwhelming happiness of experiencing the love and promise of the holiday season, you are feeling just a bit sad in your heart about something, about someone. Maybe you are nostalgic for your youth, hungry for your future, or just unsure of what lies ahead. Maybe you will have a moment of feeling blue just beneath the surface of all the holiday merriment.
Well, you are not alone.
I will wake tomorrow, on Christmas morning, overjoyed to enjoy my kids as they delight in the wonder of Santa, receiving and giving gifts to celebrate the goodness and love we feel for each other. But somewhere in there I will get a tweak of sadness because I miss my dad. I miss his laugh and smile and how much he adored me. Because I miss my grandmother. Her sense of humor and her smart, witty, wise Yankee sensibility. Because I miss my friend Brian. His smile and kindness, gone way too soon. Because, well, I miss special people far away, but always in my heart. My heart will break a little bit tomorrow.
For all of you missing someone this holiday season, here’s a poem that I’ve always liked.
Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you have always used.
Put no difference into your tone;
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect,
without the ghost of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was;
There is absolutely unbroken continuity.
What is death but a negligible accident?
I am waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near just around the corner…
All is well.
-Henry Scott Holland
Canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral
Merry Whatever You Celebrate! And a Happy New Year to you. All is well.
© Copyright 2015 Meredith Trotta