The last movie Bill and I watched together was Disney’s Frozen. Elsa and Anna were beautiful, just like queens and princesses are supposed to be, the prince was charming (for a while), the animation - especially the creation of Elsa’s ice castle was beyond amazing, and the music was incredible. (Yes, I know. Let it Go! Is playing in my head now too. But that’s way better than It’s a Small World, right?). What I liked most (besides the fact that Bill could still mentally grasp enough of what was happening to enjoy it), was Olaf, the song-and-dance snowman. Anna won’t let Kristoff mention what will happen if Olaf ever gets to experience what he croons about in his musical soliloquy Summer, but we all know. He’s going to have a meltdown.
I resemble that remark.
The holidays are tender times for those who are grieving; when everyone gathers to celebrate, you miss the ones who are not there even more. It just starts way earlier for me than it does for most.
Until mid-December every year, my husband was a twenty-first century hybrid of Ebenezer Scrooge, the main character in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and Dr. Seuss’s Christmas-stealing Grinch (before their happy endings at the end of each story).
It wasn’t that he disliked Christmas; he loved the reason for the season and Christmas Eve worship at Indian Point with lessons and carols and communion and candlelight was his favorite service of the entire year. He loved celebrating the holidays when they actually arrived. What he hated – what he loathed and despised – was the rush toward Christmas that starts months in advance. That mindset was legendary within our family circle. If the kids really wanted to yank his chain, they’d ask to put up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving.
So every time I walk into a store and see a holiday display I laugh because I can imagine him venting his spleen about how much too early it is for Christmas decorations to be out.
And then, just like Olaf in summer, I have a meltdown because it reminds me again how very much I still miss him and everything about him – including the carping about Christmas. I can put up the tree and decorate the house any time I want to now, with zero fallout, but it isn’t the same. I’d love to be able to hear those complaints in person, to have just one more of those heated “discussions” about how soon is too soon and how late is too late to Christmas shop and decorate the house.
The meltdowns have been many this fall. Stocking stuffers and Christmas florals have been on the shelves at JoAnn Fabrics since Labor Day. The trees at Michael’s were put up and decorated the week before Halloween, and the tent is ready and waiting in the parking lot at Lowe’s for the live balsams and firs that will surely arrive any day (and may be there already).
It’s happened so often by now, I’m asking myself if the Universe is using this to try to teach me something. Yeah, probably. I think I’m being reminded, yet again, (it takes some of us a while to get things) to look for something for which I can offer gratitude in every circumstance - not just the warm, fuzzy, picture-perfect postcard moments.
Everybody has their own story, their own quirks and eccentricities, their unique worldview, their particular take on what is most important in life. That is what make them them and not someone else. We don’t always experience or perceive those things in positive ways, (read: sometimes they just annoy us), and yet the tapestry of our lives would be poorer by far without their contributions to it, so… I’m offering gratitude for the laughter and the tears, the carping and complaining about Christmas, and all the other things that made my husband who he was, as well as for the years I got to share with him. And I’ll have that box of Kleenex handy when I walk into Sam’s this afternoon.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances…” I Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV