This began somewhere over Arizona or New Mexico.
We are headed to Nashville. It’s a three to four hour flight. There is lots of time to think.
i’ve been thinking about my recent posts concerning coming home for Christmas. i reread a couple. Good warm thoughts, you know; this Christmas cheer thing. i’m pretty good at it. There is nothing wrong with that by the way. In fact, that is the way it’s supposed to be.
The old saw about there being more suicides during the Christmas season has been debunked, but i know there is a lot of sadness around this season of Joy and Noel. i have some of it.
i haven’t had a Christmas without a tinge of sadness since 1977. There always has been someone missing or something just a wee bit out of kilter ever since then. i won’t go into why. There are quite a few events that have placed that tinge in my heart during these forty otherwise glorious Christmases between now and then. There is no need to beat dead horses (oh, the politically correct will have a field day with that phrase).
Four of those Christmases in the past forty years were alone, or alone as someone can be surrounded by shipmates somewhere far away. Not too much to regret about that. i signed up for it…well, not exactly to be away from home on holidays, but i knew that was part and parcel of my deal. Can’t complain.
A Christmas i’ll always remember: Maureen’s and my second, 1984. Just the two of us and two dear friends to whom we are still close. Jacksonville. Maureen and i had missed our first Christmas together. i was in the Indian Ocean. But we made up for it in ’84. i remember the antics of Doc Kerrigan and i on Christmas Eve, which i shall not go into here, maybe later. Later that evening, Maureen and i attended the service at the nearby Episcopal Church. The 11:00 p.m. service. It was small, quaint, beautiful, and wonderfully decorated, tastefully. i felt like i was in a Currier and Ives Christmas scene (without the snow). We sat in the small balcony. The music captured us, took us to a land of peace, just the two of us together with hymns on our first Christmas. Christmas Day was spent with our new friends. Laughter, fun, joking around. Couldn’t have been much better. But somewhere in all of that, in fact several times, the tinge smacked me on the back of my head.
Just to be clear that tinge of sadness will creep in this year again. i am into a day on the ground in Nashville and my hometown and the tinge already has whispered to me. That could be nostalgia. We are staying in a motel. In my hometown. We always stayed with my parents, not hotels or friends before. We thought of staying with my friends again, but i didn’t want to infringe on their Christmas plans with family. It seems strange. We went to the cemeteries this morning to say our good wishes to those who won’t be with us this Christmas. Graveside is a lovely place to reflect on wonderful times past, of course with a tinge of sadness.
We drove around town. i was glad to see the square moving back into a neat place to be with boutique shops, the antique stores seeming to be more quaint than shabby. There is even a restaurant or two. Reminded me of old Lebanon except for that ugly Burger King franchise on the northwest corner of North Cumberland. That burger store and other replacements of places in my past made me realize Lebanon isn’t exactly my hometown anymore. That’s okay. Things change. i just had to deal with another tinge of sadness.
But i’m okay, by the way. As with all things in life, tinges of sadness at Christmas time are part of it. i go back to my mantra developed out of the blue when i was handling the arrangements for my father-in-law’s final round of golf (we spread his ashes on the hole where he made his first hole in one). Ray Boggs was more than the father of my wife, he was one of my closest friends. The impact finally hit me hard. i almost lost it. Then, it came to me i should behave and deal with it the way he would want me to deal with it. And he would want me to celebrate, have a good time, remember the good times, certainly not be sad, and certainly not lose it. i didn’t. That is my guideline for getting past losing it, getting past tinges of sadness.
i got through my nostalgia tinges today, and i will get through them for the rest of this season. But they will be there.
And i will have a “merry” Christmas. In fact, it will be glorious. It’s about the birth of that guy that brought a promise that still hangs in the air. A new beginning. New hope.
Joy to the World.