Thursday, December 23, 2010
Christmas Within, Christmas Without
I was talking to a friend today about Christmas. She only celebrates it vicariously. (She remembers one year going to a family friend's house with me where everyone was talking about the many men they knew who had slept with Grace Kelly. This is a Philadelphia story I have heard many times, and not a particularly credible or charming one.) We were discussing how there really is no comparable holiday, and no comparable set of memories or nostalgia. Is it the music? At school the practice for Christmas singing began early in the fall, the same at church. Did my lungs ache more from desperately practicing to be chosen to sing the descant parts in various carols or from all the hours of hockey? Too hard to pin down the essence of what makes Christmas the most piercing day. She said the high expectations, but that isn't applicable for me--yet I have Christmas heimweh to a degree hard to describe. I miss it all year. I wanted my son's name to be Christmas (he was conceived on Christmas, so there was some justification for that, but the husband wasn't going there.) So here it is again. I've done a good job of making the house look a way that is lighted up enough for me. But the inner light is guttering wildly. There has been a lot of really painful loss this fall--two women I knew all my life who died just within the past two months, and recently a deep friend who is a death in life. What do you do with that at Christmas? What could possibly be the story I could tell myself that would light those losses bearably? The story of the birth of the baby Jesus? I am writing a story against the grief. It is a throwback, a linear narrative that believes in tragedy rather than irony. It believes in sad. I wouldn't say this is exactly an act of faith, to go ahead and make something, when I feel so unmade, so messed up. Heimweh, maybe. I am homesick for not knowing what will happen. I can't see Easter from here.