The older I get, the sadder Christmas seems to become. The memories and traditions I used to treasure have become tortuous reminders of those loved ones I have lost. Baking, cooking, shopping, a television show, a movie, a song, a smell of the season -- joys in the past -- now merely fill me with nostalgic melancholy. I miss the people I once shared my traditions with. Frankly, it's painful.
So, what's one to do? Just bury the traditions along with our loved ones, or, do we honor our loved ones by keeping them going? Today, although I was gearing towards the former, in the end I chose the latter.
As I slid the March of the Wooden Soldiers DVD into the player I thanked my cousin JP for his gift. When I received two copies last Christmas, his was the one I opened. We watched it together 500 miles apart, and spent the next 77 minutes texting each other memorable lines. I longed to watch it with him again this year but knew if I texted him I would receive no response. Instead of sharing it with my dear cousin, my husband stepped up to the plate (no amount of cajoling could convince the kids to join me) and sat with me while I chose the black & white version.
As the opening credits rolled I said up to the sky with a toast of a glass, "I hope you're watching this with me. I'm gonna continue our tradition, so gimme a sign you're with me. Miss you." The opening credits came to a close and my phone rang. It was JP's sister. Message received.
The ending was always our favorite part. The cheesy effects were overlooked, and the over-the-top acting was actually enhanced, by the memorable music that gave us goosebumps, and today, tears to my eyes. If only we all had a wooden soldier locked away that could rescue us in what seems to be our most dire days. We do. We just got to let him out.
Maybe it's crazy, but it's the little things like this that save Christmas for me. And to think I had about given up on it.