Coping with the Ghosts of Christmas Past

Scrooge's third visitor, from Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. With Illustrations by John Leech. London: Chapman & Hall, 1843

Among the pitfalls of the holiday season is the waves of nostalgia that can come unexpectedly. They can be conjured from any Christmas of the past, whether or not these eras were personally experienced.  These little ghosts of Christmas past bring all sorts of baggage when they visit and they have a tendency to overstay their welcome. I had a few of these guys show up this week, and let me tell you, none of them brought presents I wanted to keep.

One of them was assigned to bring me oddly-timed Melancholia. He was from a time when the various maladies had quaint and curious names, like “Consumption” and “Vapors.” His arrival was triggered by a lovely compliment, and no one expects to wander into a tidal wave of tears because of a happy comment, but somehow, this Christmas past managed that feat.

I had no sooner kicked this unwelcome guest to the curb, then his younger brother showed up, reminding me that Christmas is really all about children, and seeing their faces light up with wonder and joy at the magic all around them.

This punk would’ve made fun of anyone who uses the term “Melancholia,” and yet, his little visit had much the same effect on me. You can imagine, I guess, what I think about spending another Christmas without kids.

The good news is that for these low-level battles with general sadness, I have a simple cure. I go to the nearest office supply place.

Weird, I know. You should no longer be surprised by the depths of the oddity that is me.

There’s just something about wandering around the shelves of unblemished paper, and the boxes of beautiful writing tools, and all the useful items for organizing and putting things in order that soothes my soul. I don’t even have to buy anything, I can wander for a few minutes, and all the potential solutions for very basic problems fill me with hope, and “the gloomies,” (cousins to the vapors) disappear.

There were three visits to office supply stores in the past week, which tells you that embracing the more cheery spirit of the season has been challenging. Maybe these three ghosts have been sent to me as a warning. They want to prevent me from falling into the trap of countless television writers, who’ve unabashedly mined in the caverns of “A Christmas Carol” for seventeen decades when they needed a holiday-themed story for their shows.

That’s it, isn’t it?

Too bad for you all that it took me 400 words to figure out their cryptic message. I just hope that is the message, and that they don’t decide to come back and force me to see the death of Tiny Tim, or the heavy chains I forged in life, or some other weighty metaphor. I promise I will go about with a “Merry Christmas” on my lips until the end of the year. That should keep them off my back and out of my dreams until next year.

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