Christmas always makes me feel melancholy. I don’t think it is a lack of presents or cookies or family or traditions – I have as much of those things as I desire. Each year when this emotional deflation occurs, it surprises me. The unanticipated sobering, despite festive bubbles imbibed, seems to sneak up on me when I finally have met, to the best of my abilities, my holiday obligations. The shopping, cleaning, prepping, wrapping, cooking flurry has come to an end and what’s left? A sense of … not quite disappointment or dissatisfaction, just a slightly disconcerting hollowness. There’s something missing.
In years gone by, I’ve been able to look to physical and mental tiredness as likely culprits for my reflective mood. Lack of sleep and overindulgence certainly could be held responsible for my feelings. For many years, we hosted a decadent dinner party on Christmas Eve, which, naturally, was followed by a too brief night’s sleep and a midmorning drive east to join family. That’s not the case, though, now. My house is quiet and a nap beckons. The boys are gone – they even took the dog. They’ll continue to make the drive East for the foreseeable future, a realization that makes me smile.
Last year, I flew to the desert on Christmas Day. I spent 5 days running and doing yoga and absorbing sunshine and love from a dear friend. It may have been my favorite Christmas ever. Self-indulgent without being an orgy of commercialism or consumption, it was stimulating and relaxing in equal measure. I came back to New York renewed and satiated.
Thinking about that trip makes me feel happy. So, today, I’ll snuggle back into my flannels, close my eyes and hopefully dream about the magical desert mountains where the sand flies when my sneakered feet pass through. When I wake up, I’ll pull on my running clothes and make the dusting of snow outside do something similar. As I count off the miles, I will remember Christmases gone by and imagine Christmases future, but mostly I will try my best to enjoy the present of today. Merry Christmas.