Last week I was doing my Saturday morning tradition, that is, reading the morning paper while I ate my breakfast of oatmeal. There was a column called Real Life in our San Mateo Times that I could have written. The author talks about how some Christmas music makes her cry, especially two songs in particular. As it happens, those are the two that always make me cry as well. You may remember one of the songs as it debuted in Meet Me in St. Louis, a great old movie starring Judy Garland. I have wonderful memories of Christmas as a child and it makes me sad that it can’t be like that anymore. I think Christmas truly is for children. I so enjoyed the article, I wanted to share it with you, so here it is. I’m getting weepy again just writing this!
Real Life: Why does Christmas music make me cry?
By Karen Marshall
Contra Costa Times Contributor
Posted: 12/19/2009 12:00:00 AM PST http://www.insidebayarea.com/family-relationships/ci_14011994
It's the time of year when Christmas carols are everywhere. Old standards and new can be heard in every store, salon and coffee shop. There are even radio stations that deck their playlists with holiday songs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Happily, I do like Christmas music. My favorite songs put me in the holiday mood and help me shake off the crazy drivers who cut me off because they are all in such a rush.
To my surprise, though, I've noticed certain songs that bring tears to my eyes. I'm not talking about "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" or "Jingle Bells." But two songs in particular — "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" — almost invariably make me misty-eyed.
I think it has a lot to do with how magical Christmas seemed when I was a child. Growing up, Christmas was always the most special time of the year. There were the sparkling decorations, the beautiful tree (not to mention the large pile of presents beneath it), and of course the large family get-togethers.
Changes in Christmas
Over the years as I've grown and changed, Christmas has changed as well. Maturity sets in and, once we learn that the role of Santa Claus is played by our parents, innocence is lost.
Even then, though, Christmas remains a wonderful time to be spent with family and those that we love. So why the tears?
It's not how I've changed that causes Christmas to be different, it's simply the changes that can't be helped. It's the fact that once a single family member is lost, Christmas is never quite the same. My grandmother died when I was 12, and from then on something was always different about December. Something was missing because she was gone.
As the years go by and more family members leave us, Christmas continues to change, and it can be in good ways as well. When our families are blessed with new babies, it brings joy back into the season. As we watch the wonder of the holidays unfold through their innocent wide eyes, suddenly Christmas becomes all magical and sparkly again.
Still, it will never be the same as when I was a child. And this, I believe, is why certain songs move me to tears. It's not so much about sadness as a bittersweet nostalgia, perhaps a bit of mourning, for Christmases past. When my eyes water it's in remembrance for how it used to be, and for the simpler days of childhood.
When those two emotion-triggering songs come on, I don't change the dial or turn down the volume. And I don't fight the tears. Instead, I sing along. I sing for the spirit of the season, for Christmases past, present and future. I sing for the loved ones who have gone as well as those who remain.
Karen Marshall lives in Livermore.