Dear Blogging Friends,
I am having one of “those” Christmas Eve moments. I’m sure some of you have had them too. Those moments when you’re suddenly feeling blue, out-of-sorts, dismal. It’s not yet time to open gifties (that’s tomorrow morning in our house) and it’s not yet time to make Christmas Eve dinner to share with one’s husband. It’s not time to call all the faraway kids and parents and brothers who live in New Jersey, Oregon, lower Michigan and Georgia.
What time is it? you ask.
It’s time to feel the Christmas Eve blues.
Yes, dear reader, this is an annual tradition, as real and true as the excitement of unwrapping presents. It’s more like the feeling Joseph and pregnant Mary must have felt when they were turned away from the inn. It’s a tsunami of sadness that sweeps in from nowhere and decorates the house in flotsam and jetsam of sad waves of emotion.
I first felt the Christmas Eve blues in my early 20’s, the first year we didn’t take the ten-hour trek downstate to celebrate with family. I remember the keening hurt of it–the sorrow that I wouldn’t be laughing beneath their Christmas tree, that I wouldn’t be waiting for my dad to come home from the pharmacy, that we wouldn’t be toasting our love with little champagne glasses.
I remember in those early years listening to Christmas music where a crooning Frank Sinatra or Andy Williams promised–yes vowed–to be home for Christmas, no matter what happened. He would come back, year after snowy white year, and we would always be together come hell or high water. (OK, our crooner would NOT have said “hell or high water” publicly; excuse the editorial interjection.)
It’s what family does, right? We get together at Christmas.
Except when we don’t.
We live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, as many of you know, and it’s over 500 miles to go over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house down in the Thumb. And you can count on 75% of all Christmas trips to involve blinding white-out snow conditions where you pray to baby Jesus in the manger than you survive to celebrate His birth.
We gave up going regularly downstate since our 30’s. “We’ll come and visit you in spring, summer and fall!” we promised, “And you can Ho-ho-hold us to it!”
Instead, I dimmed the lights low in late afternoon in our Little House in the Woods and listened to Christmas music and imagined all of them laughing and giggling and clinking glasses and having *the most wonderful time of the year*.
Of course, we never imagined this would work backwards, as well, as our kids grew older and moved away. THEY, of course, would come home and we would be together come hell or high water.
Except. When our son discovered that EVERY time he flew into the Upper Peninsula in winter it took several days to get out due to intrepid snowstorms and icy runways or Santa’s sleigh crashing at the airport. (Sorry, guys, I am trying to entertain myself with this post.)
So this year he and his wife are down in Georgia celebrating with Grandma and Grandpa Drue.
Our daughter has to work today and Wednesday where she lives out Oregon-way , so she’s otherwise occupied. And my mom, brothers and extended family will be decking the halls and playing Christmas games and loving being together…
The last time we ventured down south to the Thumb was three years ago. It was the last time with my dad who died less than three weeks later.
I have been thinking about all the people feeling sad on Christmas Eve. Those missing loved ones. Those feeling sick. Those alone. Those tired. Those wishing life was showing up a little different.
I am thinking about how life involves both sadness and joy. For so many years I tried to push the sadness away, trying to figure out how to make it all happy. But lately I am celebrating it all. The sometimes-sadness of being human. The sometimes-happiness of new possibilities. The way BOTH sadness and happiness intersect and sing Christmas carols in our life.
Tonight we’ll make a fun Christmas Eve dinner together. We’ll perhaps pour a glass of wine and toast merrily. Tomorrow we’re going to celebrate Christmas with friends. There will be lots of laughs and good food and appreciation.
In the meantime, I smile softly and gently at my aching heart. The way it’s missing loved ones. The way it wishes we would always be together, if the fates allow.
If you’re feeling even a tiny bit sad during the holidays, make a place for this in the manger of your heart. A baby of new possibility will be born soon and hopefully you’ll soon be smiling in gratitude at the gifts this life brings.
Love to all of you this holy-day season, Kathy