The Nostalgia of Noel

Christmas is a reckoning.

It is a time for reconciling the past with the present, who you are with who you used to be. It is a time for reminiscing, for planning for the future, for remembering those who have passed and celebrating new life.

I love it all.

The months of planning and thought that go into the presents, the back and forth of who is bringing what, the wafting scent of pine luring me, raising memories and echoes of laughter and the tearing of wrapping paper.

I love the baking, the fudge, the flour-coated bench tops. The curious questions about chimneys and the man with a white beard, silent reverence towards the fragile baby breathing softly amidst the hay.  The presents that appear secretively, wrapped in white paper, cobbled together with staples and lovingly scrawled names. I love the tunes, verses rich with centuries of poetry, calling forth a depth of spirit, a redemptive view of humanity.

Christmas is a time where we revisit the previous iterations of ourselves – that first peek with a cautious eye towards the end of the bed as dawn light creeps over the covers, hoping we haven’t been forgotten. The grip of anticipation as the hours dawdle towards morning, the wash of wonder at bulging stockings magically appearing overnight. Our spirits delight in the laughter of children, a fleeting wish to bottle the magic that appears in the unrestrained wonder of sparkling eyes.

Tastes that are quintessentially Christmas – the creamy cinnamon bite of eggnog, the wafting heartiness of slow-roasting pork, the sweet hint of cranberry with slices of turkey. Layers of trifle, the crunch of fresh bread, delectable treats with hints of gingerbread, candy cane, chocolate. I love the marrying of flavours – salads with pomegranate bursts, savoury baby carrots, feta and macadamia nuts, the salty tang of ham.

There are moments to gloss over – interactions that don’t quite go to plan, exhaustion spilling out in irritated bursts and high-pitched complaints. Wistful wishes of collapsing amidst the mess, drink in hand, absorbing the beautiful chaos. The sense of obligations unfulfilled – torn between present parenting and conscientious cleaning. Overturned glasses, wildly flung limbs, interrupted naps.

There is something otherworldly about it all. A haunting space where worlds collide, even if just for a spattering of moments.

As the twilight darkens and unnaturally quiet children are packed into their seats – boxes towering precariously in every available space, we pause – words elusively distant, thoughts a jumbled cacophony of overwhelming sensations – and marinate in the heavy silence.

It is finished.

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