Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas…

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday and earlier in the day I stopped at my brother and sister-in-law’s place to drop off some stuff before the dinner they were hosting for the occasion.

My friend was with me, and we got to talking about the holidays and Christmas, and my sis-in-law asked us what our favorite Christmas song was. I initially said, “Oh Holy Night,” but then I thought more on it and quickly added “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”

This isn’t the first time I’ve been struck by this song’s sentiment (loyal readers of the blog might remember last year’s musings on the subject), but I am impressed at how intensely it’s stricken me this year.

(Side note: I owe a tremendous amount to Dr. Striner, who taught historical film courses during my undergrad at Washington College, for his emphatic and charismatic teachings, especially on this particular point in film history. Of all the things that have fallen away from my education, this strange tidbit has managed to stay with me in the most profound way…)

9 times out of 10 when this song comes on the radio, it’s the version with the glossed up  lyrics: “Hang a shining star upon the highest bow,” and each time it infuriates me. As someone who whole-heartedly loves Christmas, and its incredible power and magic, I hate getting the white-washed, G-rated, neutered version of it. To me, Christmas is so wonderful because it is hopeful despite the darkness in our lives–hell, that’s why it’s held in the dead of winter–literally during the darkest time of the year. While we’re all trudging along in the bitter cold, absolute pitch black of winter day, the twinkly lights and extra time with family and friends keeps us motivated to keep waking up, to keep muddling through it, to keep living until spring. By December, our calendar year is almost over, and many of us are ready to shed the regrets and pains and disappointments of last year and start anew–even if only symbolically.

And this year is no different–not just for me, but for a lot of people out there. 2013 was hard living for a lot of us. I cannot count the number of stories of frustrating losses, painful loses, heartbreaking disappointments, and hardships that friends, coworkers, and acquaintances have experienced this past year. I guess every year ends up being a transitional year for somebody, but damn if 2013 wasn’t one for a lot of people I know, including me.

But you know what? 2013 wasn’t all bad. There was a lot of awesome self-discovery. A lot of great moments of clarity. So many touching acts of kindness that make me remember that there really is enough good in the world to offset the very bad. And despite how many times I felt like a walking car accident this year–as if my internal/emotional turmoil was presenting itself to some sort of external disfiguration–I kept my shit (relatively) together. I got through it. I kept living. I kept breathing.

And so did you, dear friend.

And because of that, I’m still willing to be hopeful (or, what I like to call it these days, “cautiously optimistic.”). And I’m not willing to feel bad or guilty about it. I think I’ve been punishing myself for some time now–feeling like I’ve needed to wear a mourning veil for the aspects of my life that are now over, like I need to wait X amount of time before I can take the steps forward I need to to fully move on. But that’s not how this life works–each day is a new day, a new path to choose, a new direction to take. And I’m taking all the steps I can, in the direction I need to–without apology or regret.

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