The closer it gets to the holidays, the more nostalgic I become. I believe it's normal human behavior. You think of people in your life currently, people who are no longer around-- whether through distance or death, or misunderstanding.

...and I ain't got nothing to say...

As I decorate for the holidays, taking out a simple manger, I remember the Christmas we waited for my mother to come home from the hospital with my new baby brother fifty years ago. I think of my grandmother and her laughter, her white tissue paper wrapped gifts tied with red cord, like bakeries used to do.

...I go to bed feeling the same way...

I remember the Christmas my youngest son was born, how I almost bled to death but made it home four days before Christmas, looking like a pale Madonna in home videos holding a ten pound baby dressed like a tiny Santa. His two year old brother kept taking off the hat, saying, "but he doesn't like it."

...Hey there baby, I could use just a little help
You can't start a fire, you can't start a fire without a spark...

I remember the first Christmas after my father died, his chair, his space at the desk empty. We all moved downstairs away from the tree and the emptiness. I built a fire in the family room but it didn't help. I remember the Christmas between two surgeries for breast cancer. I hung a thousand cranes wherever anyone would let me.

...I check my look in the mirror wanna change my clothes my hair my face...

I remember everyone's reaction to the diagnosis from my youngest asking if I was going to die, to his brother writing about it for a school project and the teacher giving him a red slash and a zero for not double-spacing. I remember the doctor who was kind. I remember my daughter and her husband took me to Bruce Springsteen and the e street band's reunion concert in East Rutherford where at first I was overwhelmed, then healed by the lyrics, the songs, the crowd. My daughter bought me a T-shirt that I still wear even though...

...This gun's for hire even if we're just dancing in the dark...

As I get older, I have less interest in the materialism and commercialization of Christmas. I've never been comfortable shopping or a mall going person. I give art, homemade things, useful items or wacky things purchased at sales that benefit at-risk youth, senior citizens, children with disabilities.

...You sit around getting older there's a joke here somewhere and it's on me...

I find the lawn decorations and lights people start putting up on Thanksgiving afternoon fascinating. Personally, I prefer the window candles and white icicle lights across our front porch. Simple light.

...I'll shake this world off my shoulders come on baby the laughs on me...

I enjoy the life-size nativity scenes with real hay, houses that must have an entire wing to store all of the reindeer and penguins and Santas, blinking and whirling over-sized candy canes, snowmen, elves, Stars of David, stars not of David.

...I'm dying for some action I'm sick of sitting 'round here trying to write...

I remember the year I made wreaths for everyone, stapling NJ Devils hockey player cards onto one for my daughter, an anonymous wreath I hung on the neighbor's side door when they weren't home, only to realize I'd left the T out of Christmas in glue and gold glitter. Eight gingerbread houses and a tired back.

...You can't start a fire, sittin' 'round cryin' over a broken heart...

I remember the year my younger son's heart was broken and I left the tree up until February, only to realize as I took off each ornament, dry pine needles falling, I needed to forgive the girl who lied to us all and hurt him deeply. That same Christmas my son-in-law was in Iraq and my younger brother didn't come home. We ate sad homemade cookies and prayed for peace in our hearts.

...You can't start a fire, worryin' about your little world falling apart...

Then there is this year, where I find myself grateful for the smallest things. Words of encouragement, diversity, perfect and silly song fragments, in this brave old world where...

...This gun's for hire even if we're just dancing in the dark...

Lyrics are from Dancing in the Dark, sung by Bruce Springsteen, written by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.