I’ll Be Home for Christmas

I think this Christmas season is trying to kill me.

I have mixed feelings about the holiday at the best of times. On the one hand, Christmas: yay! I love just about everything about Christmas: the way the lighting in stores seems softer and yet more vibrant as the walls reflect the myriad colors of the tree lights, the music classics humming over my head, imagining the look on my son’s face when he opens his presents (which have always been enough to bring out the “wow!” but not so much that he grows bored or overwhelmed).

I also feel a little sad and nostalgic because Christmas was such a big deal at my parents’ house. I have a large immediate family – four siblings, their spouses (that sounds so cold because I don’t think of my siblings-in-law as family by marriage: they’re just more sisters and brothers of my heart) and a baker’s dozen of nieces and nephews – and this holiday was one of the few occasions when we would all gather at the same time. I can still remember the way the dining room table was set up with my mom’s nice linens, the gleam of the deep jade tiles and the way the temperature lingered just right: just warm enough, and neither dry nor humid.

It’s hard to think about how I can never, ever go back to the times like that. My parents have both been gone for many years. “Mom and Dad’s house” was sold a long time ago and has new owners (who have made the place very ugly, I might add. This isn’t my bias talking. I suppose that’s a rant for another post). Many of my nieces and nephews are grown with their own lives, and it’s difficult to get even the siblings together in one place. All of this makes my heart heart whenever I hear “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” especially the last line of the chorus: “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.”

So, I was sitting in my car getting teary eyed (because I was by myself and I’m allowed to indulge myself a little when nobody is around to see me) and thinking, “Just for a minute. I’ll listen to this song, remember how it felt when everybody was together and then I’ll get onto the business of grocery shopping.”

The song finished. I reached to turn off the stereo and take my key out of the ignition but not before the next song started.

It was the Carpenters, a.k.a. the other piece of my emotional Kryptonite. It’s as if all of the world’s secret sorrows are captured in a measure of music and Karen Carpenter is the instrument through which it is channeled.

I stared at the dial for a second, thought, “This holiday season is out to get me” and turned the music off.

I was already composing myself as I exited the car. I think it’s okay to be sad. It’s also okay to miss my parents the way that I do. They were awesome parents. I don’t think it’s okay to dwell or otherwise let my life stop because of this.

The Christmas tree is coming out this week, and candy canes will be purchased tonight. I might not be able to go back in time, but I can sure as heck enjoy what’s going on right now.

I’m closing off with this video, which cracks me up and makes the whole situation seem giggle-worthy instead of depressing:

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