As I sit down to write this, I have just downloaded Christmas music, updated with such new names to me as Michael Buble', Harry Connick and Diana Krall. Heaven only knows where our standard Christmas CD collection is, buried, I am sure, in the piles of boxes that inhabit the small cubbie holes around our house, some so small we have to squeeze to get into them. My partner has already made her way to the States, it being the in-between year where we go back to spend time with our family on the coast of California.
The holidays in our house span two continents and six decades of memories. And, just like with the music, some traditions seem old and are tucked away in the closets yet still available, while it is the new in both technology and relationships that have become the mainstay of our Christmas Holiday Season. For those who are new to our story, we moved from the United States to Ireland five and a half years ago. At 50+, what seemed at times like a courageous act, has given us a new lease on life and no where is this more obvious than at the holidays.
As an example, before I walked into our Cork NonFiction Writers Group Christmas meeting in downtown Cork this morning I sauntered up the street to Brown Thomas where, for a small donation, I added a ribbon to the Rememberance Tree. While no longer a Cork Bishopstown Rotarian, I worked the booth at this tree for too many years not to always want to add our parents names to the many others whose yellow ribbons cover the tree from base to its top three stories above. The streets were packed with people and I was delighted to look at the variety of decorations in shop windows. The rain was light, but my mind was on snowflakes.
Christmas is time to mark the changes and to remember the sheer joys that come to us through this blessed life. For some it is a religious centering as well, as is appropriate for the darkest part of the year, or at least seems apropos for any in the Northern hemisphere. Yule logs bring light to dark times and our adopted land makes this tradition resonate with our souls as we see the sun come up at around 8am and our world goes dark well before 5pm. Our dogs remind us that the requisite two walks a day just need to be closer together. As I walked this morning past the graves of the three furry friends who moved with us five years ago "Joie de Vivre," especially as it has to do with playing ball, cut through the rain showers.
Life on two continents, virtual communications, daily work relationships with people all over the world, these have become commonplace. Perhaps it is the strangeness of these new things, or maybe the time of year that makes me nostalgic – not for the perennial white Christmas, as that often was accompanied by cars stuck in drifts and rotten weather – and not for deeper relationships long past as the new people in my life mean as much to me as any others I have enjoyed – but rather nostalgic just because of the joy of memory. It's fun to recall where we were, and indeed who we were, as we pull out the decorations each year. Equally wonderful are the old songs done new ways, and old traditions carried out in new places.
And so I take a line from the lyrics that are playing, and "fall asleep counting my blessings." Old friends and new, golden memories to be brought out, dusted off and appreciated and silver ones to be created. These are the joys of the holiday season and I know they are joys shared by all who take the time to reflect no matter what this time of year means to them. As we move from darkness to the light may 2012 bring all the joy and fulfillment you can imagine to all who read this.