Nostalgia and Christmas

111206_131208_89717405This Norman Rockwell artwork is from a Christmas album cover that is front and center in my Christmas memories.  ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians’ is my soundtrack for Christmas in the early ’60’s and, again, as our children were very small.

What is it about the way we remember special times in life that makes them so nostalgic for us?  Why do certain moments capture our hearts and minds and can be brought back in living color with a few notes from a song or a smell from the kitchen?

‘Nostalgia’ (a Greek word) translates to ‘the pain from an old wound’.  There’s a great quote that says it is “a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone…the feeling of a place that we ache to go again.”

As I prepare our home for the Christmas season this year, it is not with the usual gusto. We are empty-nesters now and it seems pointless to decorate for the two of us alone. Our kids are nearby but we don’t see them as much as we’d like.  We aren’t hosting any parties or out-of-town guests this year.  We are fortunate enough to be joining our entire family for a wonderful Christmas at my brother’s house – the tradition has now been passed to him.  I’m sure his home will be lovely and full of Christmas cheer.

But as I begin to hear Christmas music on the radio, my heart pulls and tugs and begs, just a bit, for a little decoration in the home.  So I will put up a very small tree (puppy proof), and I will make a few Christmas goodies (to share), and I will definitely listen to “Twas the Night Before Christmas” many times.

And as I do, I will ache to go to our old home when it was filled with the laughter and anticipation of our children when they were very small…and I will travel to that place of my childhood and feel the joy and true spirit of Christmas once more.

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