There it is again – the twinge in my gut, the tightness in my chest. The dull ache that can’t be soothed, a gentle sadness during this most joyous time of year.
It’s a sense of longing, whose source I cannot identify. A yearning deep within for…what? There’s an empty hole in my soul, seeking to be filled. What is it that will still the turmoil? The simpler times of childhood Christmases? I reach into the foggy mist of Christmases past, grasping for a long ago memory to settle the upheaval.
My heart wants to be filled with the awe and wonder that would come each Christmas morning as we peeked under the tree…with each Christmas service singing Silent Night, Holy Night. My heart wants to be filled with traditions past, that are passed no more. The wooden bowl full of nuts; the smell of fresh tangerines; the huge peppermint stick, broken into pieces and meted out one small chunk at a time.
Is this hole in my soul, this hurt…is it for the Christmas traditions long forgotten? Or for the memories so precious? This nostalgia always brings an ache. And rightly so. Nostalgia is from the Greek “nostos”, homecoming, and “algos”, pain.
The pain of homecoming. Only to find the house vacant. Life changes. Divorce leaves holes, death leaves empty spaces. Life’s circumstances leave ragged edges like wrapping paper torn and tossed. This longing that pierces me: is it a longing for all the “should haves?” I should have tried harder…I should have visited more often. Is my soul subconsciously grieving for opportunities lost?
“…they meant to reassure themselves that nothing now was really changed, that things were as they always had been, and as they always would be, forever and ever, amen. But they were wrong. They did not know that you can’t go home again.” Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again.
It’s good to remember the past, to learn from it, to have fond memories. But to camp there, pining away for what is no more, is to waste precious time of the here and now…the time to make new memories and begin new traditions. At some point, it’s time to turn and move forward.
But the Lord says, “Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago. Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already—you can see it now! I will make a road through the wilderness and give you streams of water there.”
Isaiah 43:18-19 (GNT)
And so this year, I will remember Christmas Past with great fondness. But I will live in Christmas Present, the here and now, looking up in anticipation of Christ’s birth. Waiting. For. Him.
My emptiness is a longing “for Jesus, who makes precisely what none of us can but all of us want: Christmas.” (Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift)
This year, I will dwell on Jesus. I will ponder the miracle of His birth. Will you join me?
Linking up with these lovely writers:
Kelly Ballarie – Purposeful Faith
Barbie Swihart – The Weekend Brew
Holley Gerth – Coffee for You Heart
Hazel Moon – Tell Me a True Story
Holly Barrett – Testimony Tuesday
Jennifer Dukes Lee – Tell His Story