Thanksgiving and Christmas have passed and a new year is on the way. Living a transient lifestyle has its benefits, but around the holidays each year the Christmas spirit that everyone else seems to have does not always take hold. Instead it’s a time of reflection, sprinkled with moments of deep homesickness, topped with a good serving of missing your family, with a side of reminiscing about things one cannot get back. This dish is called Nostalgia. Indulging too much in this dish results in the itis (read: food coma), but instead of getting tired, one is just overcome with emotion.
Specifically in regard to Christmas. Because Christmas is marketed so heavily as being almost exclusively for children, parents go out of their way to make the moments despite whatever limitations they may have. Twenty years later, those memories are still remembered. K remembers explicitly being a very young girl maybe 4 or 5 and very in love with Barbies. On one particular Christmas, her mother purchased some Barbies and got the latest and greatest accessories to accompany her new toys. Her mom took care to remove the barbies from their packaging and placed them in the doll house. K awoke to a barbie dream.
K loved holiday cheer and couldn’t be happier with a couple of weeks out of school. Her parents were still together, she had a new little brother, and loved taking long road trips to see extended family reuniting with her closest cousins. Life was great. Unfortunately, many of the moments we find the fondest around this time of the year are ones we can never get back.
G remembers the food. Fried oysters for breakfast and exquisite mouth-watering side dishes like corn pudding and rice pudding. Grandad’s homemade pies, the apple pie with the raisins inside (Thank You God), and the infamous sweet potato pie that was sweeter than a plate of yams with extra syrup. He remembers his Grandad, and the look on his face while standing at the door with a belt in his hand saying “be quiet and get back in the bed” to him and his cousin on a early christmas morning after they snuck about to find presents after deciding it was “technically christmas” at 3:45 am. He also remembers playing the most epic and extravagant monopoly games with his uncle and cousin late into the night. They would debate and argue about his uncle’s cheating until the volume reached just the right decibel necessary to wake his auntie out of her slumber, pushing her to firmly and swiftly close the monopoly board and walk away with all the cash and requisite pieces without any warning.
No matter what we do as adults, we can never go back to how things were when we were children, which also happens to be one of the purest times of our lives. None of these memories stand a chance of being recreated. Even if you live in the same place where your memories were created, your parents are still together, and everyone from your fondest memories is still alive, does this mean that you are getting what’s best for you? How would you know if you’ve never experienced something different? At minimum, you might be missing out on something else. For many that have found themselves in new and challenging circumstances, there is the growth that develops after spending time away from people and traditions you know and love. Sometimes it can be welcomed and easy growth, and other times its painful and alienating. However, the flip side of pain and suffering is the growth that comes with working through the process.
Thus, the inescapable dilemma then becomes how to understand and appreciate special moments without ever having to be without them. Are moments for personal growth missed because one tries to recreate the same traditions every holiday season? Change is inevitable. The way you manage it dictates how it helps or hinders your growth. If you feel like you can’t let something go, figure out what it is that you’re holding on to. Because if it’s the memory, you can take all of those memories with you wherever you go.