I am a firm believer in the totally absurd idea that if I think really hard about someone – think “I love you”, think “I miss you”, think “I care” – then somehow, the universe will find a way to make that sentiment known to the person in question.
This is obviously ridiculous. But hell, people are hard to stay in touch with, and sometimes it’s all I can do to just send an honest, so-true-it-hurts feeling out into the universe and hope that it makes some tiny spec of difference. After all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
Because it’s that time of year again, and the older I get, the more I feel the weight of nostalgia (right after the weight of a Thanksgiving turkey) as the weather turns cold. Christmas is one of the most well-documented times in our lives, which makes it even easier to look back at photos and memories of Christmases gone by, and marvel at how quickly things seem to change. It’s so easy to pluck out specific holiday memories, in part because I think we work extra hard to remember our friends and family during this season. And as a result of that, people and places and details are burned into our minds long after those people we recall go from friends to strangers, and the places go from familiar to foreign. It’s sad and it’s beautiful, and it’s all wrapped up in the joy and optimism of Christmas. Fittingly so, because while it’s the time of year our pasts can weigh heavy on us, it’s also the time of year when joy and optimism abound. Because really, don’t we get tired of playing the cynic? Christmas gives us permission to believe that yes, people are good at heart, and yes, being generous can make a difference. And it’s true. Even if it isn’t necessarily popular to say so.
I like to imagine I can’t be the only one for whom “That Christmas Feeling” incapsulates both the happy and the sad. We’re all human, which means we’ve all probably got people we miss who wandered out of our lives for one reason or another, or family members we somehow lost touch with even though we kept meaning to call. And sometimes you can’t call, because it’s too late or the distance is too far or life just hasn’t worked out that way. And that’s when you just close your eyes and think really, really hard, and hope that those thoughts can make some sort of difference.
And then you open your eyes, and you look around at the people you call friends and family, and the place you call home. And your heart swells with a joy that will live alongside the nostalgia through the New Year.
And you realize what exactly it is to feel that Christmas feeling.