Every year at Christmastime, I start showing signs of homesickness — even if I’m already at home. It’s a good kind of homesick — one that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling, resulting from good memories of Christmases past.
My memory motor went into overdrive this week when my marathon Christmas preparations were brought to an abrupt halt. Hijacked by a bad cold, I had to put my to-do lists aside and take a few sick days.
Between Coricidin-induced naps, I watched sappy Christmas specials on the Hallmark channel and cried myself in and out of consciousness. I went through two boxes of Kleenex, because I was sneezing and boo-hooing at the same time.
One after the other, these made-for-TV movies are dominated by Z-grade actors and well-worn plots. They’ve been aired since Thanksgiving with 25 or so shown on some kind of rotation. Every one features someone trying to get back home or help others at Christmastime.
I tend to blubber even harder when the commercials come on. Have you seen the one where a young doctor is talking to his mother on the telephone? He apologizes that he can’t make it home for Christmas. Dejected, he leaves the hospital and goes to his lonely apartment building. Just before he walks in, he calls his mother one more time to tell the family Merry Christmas. He opens the door to discover his entire family making Xmas dinner. (I have no idea what they were advertising.)
I was sobbing so loud, the mailman knocked on the door to see if I was okay. By then I was out of tissue and had to resort to toilet paper.
Ditto for the Folgers commercial featuring a young man coming home from abroad. He’s greeted by his sister and when his mother comes in and yells “PEETER,” I’m a goner. That’s a three hanky ad, and so old, the kids are probably senior citizens by now.
The music, sights, and smells of Christmas evoke memories that can grip us by our heart strings. I had dinner with a friend the other night and when she placed a small bowl of fruit Jell-O by my plate, I burst into tears. She was horrified until I explained that my grandmother always served Jell-O that way at Christmas dinner.
But listen, all that crying was cathartic. I recovered from my cold in record time and feel like I can conquer the world — or at least, have myself a merry little Christmas.
Don’t we all have those moments during Christmas when we are flooded with memories of good times? We reminisce about loved ones who are no longer with us and yearn for that wonder of childhood again.
Erma Bombeck once wrote, “There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.” Maybe so, but my inner child shows up every year and at the end of the day, there’s nothing better than being surrounded by family and friends, mountains of crumpled wrapping paper and a sink full of dirty dishes.
Merry Christmas to all. Maybe today we can all detach from the trivial and focus on what’s really important and be grateful for the gift of Christmas.
Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement. She welcomes comments at http://www.deludeddiva.com .