Year after year, the holiday blues seem to arrive a bit earlier than before. As we join the celebration of a season that matters to the people we’ve come to love, it’s only polite to show enthusiasm.
Once again, the stores are swarmed with shoppers and a bad economy seems long forgotten. Now that I don’t have an extended list of gifts to buy, preparation is somewhat easier. As usual, my husband writes many packages of greeting cards in his best handwriting. I do the shopping and food preparations. Sometimes I wonder if it’s better this way, with less to do, more to think about. But the truth is all the gift buying, party going and singing Christmas carols with friends along the snowy streets of Chicago suburb felt more like a holiday.
Last month, when I was back in Chicago, old friends wanted to know if we ever missed being there. To be honest, no! Despite the glorious fall colors, I knew I was past that city. For ten years now I haven’t missed the cruel wind, the flat lands, or the impossible toll roads. It’s kind of nice at this age to do my Christmas shopping where I can walk back to my car with no fear of slipping. And what’s there to miss about scraping the thick ice from the windshield before driving away?
Then again, what about missing my good friends? We have met some wonderful people in California, but can they replace the ones we’d known for forty years? Will I be able to know the newcomers as well or love them as much? Will Chicago ever stop to be “home” to us? After all, that’s where my husband and I worked for a huge chunk of our lives, socialized the most, and had three babies. People here never knew the younger me, or the little babies that lit my life. They never saw my home in Glencoe or Highland Park, and they sure don’t remember my kids in braces! Can memories be erased just because we moved?
The truth is, years of being misplaced, moving from one country to another and city to city, has turned us into a bunch of nomads. From Mashad to London to Shiraz to Richmond to Chicago and now San Diego, it’s a miracle I’ve remained the same. Maybe nothing can change who I am, but after moving around so much, the word “home” is bound to acquire a new meaning. When you become a citizen of the world, you somehow turn into a Dervish who needs no monastery. The earth is your home and the sky a roof over your head. With your loved ones standing on the other side of a glass wall, human ties become less dependable. You give more and take less, and finally there comes a day when the strong urge to be part of the busy society has vanished. You coil inside yourself and with each passing day appreciate your solitude a little more.
Life is a one-way road. We pass by a variety of scenery, will never see the same one twice, and there’s always alluring tomorrows with anticipation of more to see.
Over the long journey, at first you may write a travel log, take many pictures and try to capture every moment. Then realize that a place is just a place, a city just a city, and in the end people are only people. When you understand that loved ones will forever be in your heart, that you don’t have to hold them, you begin to loosen your grip. You discover that distances are immaterial and that just like the homeland you’ve left behind, those you love will always be yours to remember. And when you get the holiday blues, you try to think of all the ice you no longer have to scrape.