Dearest Rachel –
Since I’ve either a.) been out of the country, or b.) shopping from home (or c.) both a. and b., thanks to the fact that I can shop online from anywhere, including a hotel in Switzerland), I haven’t been hearing a lot of Christmas music this year. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword, as it prevents me from getting into any sort of holiday spirit even as I’m inoculated from being annoyed about listening over and over again to the same old stuff ad nauseum.
I miss the music, though, to a certain extent. Certainly, the carols (and caroling) were a fun activity to both participate and take in back in the day, and a few more reminders about what the season is truly about are good and necessary.
But I’m going to admit that I can do without any of the secular stuff, this year above all else. Without focusing on the Christ child, and the fact that He came here to reconcile us to Him and His Father, and to “fit us for heaven, to live with [Him] there,” as one carol puts it so well, the season is all about loved ones, and being with them, and…
…well, that’s no longer a thing anymore, now, is it?
I’ll bet I could literally write a letter to you every day in December about one secular Christmas song after another, and how it’s been utterly ruined for me because you’re no longer here. In fact, I might just try that for the remainder of the month, at least, and see how far I can get.
I might as well start with some low-hanging fruit, as there are songs that have been painful for me to listen to for a much longer time than just since your departure. Some songs, by their very nature, remind me of the fact that time has flown by, and left me behind.
There are so many songs about childhood that mention this fact in passing (I remember listening to an album you got for Daniel when he was little about “Me and My Teddy Bear” that would always reduce me to a sobbing mess), but this one delivers a real gut punch just from the actual lyrics, spelling it out fairly explicitly how fleeting childhood innocence is: “once you leave its borders, you can ne’er return again.”
I expect it’s why you always made a concerted effort to never quite grow up. Oh, you played the part of the adult when the situation called for it, but you always made sure to never completely move out of this magical land, lest you be forced to renounce your citizenship within it. For my part, I had left it behind so much sooner than I’m sure I should have, but in marrying you, I at least regained a link – however tenuous – to the place through you. Still, I was never more than a tourist there, a semi-legal alien, no matter how much I did my best to indulge you in allowing you to keep your childhood.
Of course, the toys of our childhood wouldn’t have been recognizable to the children that Ms. Day here sung about back in 1964. Sure, we played with stuff like Erector sets, Tinkertoys and Lego bricks in our day (and of course, you had your doll house and the like), but the video and computer games that made up much of our youth and childhood would have been utterly foreign to them – not that they wouldn’t have been absolutely fascinated by them, had they been available to them back then.
And while these days, there are emulations that allow us to relive those games on our vastly more sophisticated machines, it lacks something. Maybe that childhood wonder at the games themselves; they were so simplistic back then! How did we manage to enjoy something so crude as this?
But this was the stuff of our childhood, and we’re stuck having to acknowledge that it doesn’t hold the same amount of interest that it once did. There are things that are bigger, flashier, more sophisticated, to seize our attention.
And even those things have to be set aside, as our responsibilities come first. I’ve found myself playing games at the ‘office’ from time to time (as my boss is an absolute pushover, as you used to hear me tell you), but today was not one of those days. There’s too much else to take care of, and those things take priority.
And as those things, like weeds in the garden, choke the life out of our childhood, we as humans lose a piece of ourselves as we grow up and grow old. The bells from the Polar Express no longer jingle, and not because our hearing is going (although that may be a part of it); we no longer pay attention to those things in our live that call to the child within us, until one day, that child is no longer there when we want him (or her) to be there. You kept yours until the very last, but there aren’t that many of us who could say that, least of all myself. And with you gone – and having to go through life without you – whatever childhood you might have managed to revive within me is well and truly gone forever. I doubt I’ll be able to marry into citizenship a second time.
Still, you may have left a bit behind in Daniel yet. He may have set the likes of Mickey Mouse and Veggie Tales behind as childish, but he has a fair amount of other things that he continues to engage with – when he’s not too wrapped up in prophets and pundits. I can only hope and pray he doesn’t lose his grasp on that younger self, lest he regret it like I do.
I don’t know if those across the veil get to choose their age; it would be a shame for most of us to spend eternity in the feeble remains of what one’s body aged into. I’d be interested to see how many – like you, I’d expect – chose to see if they could be a citizen of that magical land yet again.
Wish you could fill me in on that.