Last Christmas

At this time of year, it seems like we’re all supposed to be ridiculously happy, hanging out with all our loved ones, and getting all we ask for whether tangible or intangible gifts. That is not reality. For some, the holidays are a sad and challenging time…made more so by those artificially-created, lofty expectations they should be feeling exactly the opposite.

Life doesn’t operate on a schedule, and Life could care less what time of year it is. Relationships end during the holidays, illness arrives during the holidays, and loss is experienced during the holidays. The commercialization of the season – which starts earlier each year – disappoints those who fear its true meaning has been lost. Financial concerns. Job losses. Christmas time is for many at best bittersweet…at worst the worst.

I have empathy for those who don’t care for this time of year…those who just want the holidays to be over with…and to already be living in the new year.

I will celebrate the holidays here. I’ll also reference religious beliefs regarding Christmas. That being said, if you are someone who wishes it was already January 2nd, be advised I get it. My mother passed away days before Thanksgiving several years back, so of course I now think about that at Thanksgiving. Life didn’t care Thanksgiving was coming. But that’s…Life. It certainly helped enhance my awareness this time of year isn’t for everybody. Life doesn’t have a calendar.

I am not an expert on the acclaimed sci-fi television series “Doctor Who” but I have seen several seasons of it. Each year at this time, I revisit their wonderful Christmas episodes. There is one in particular titled “Last Christmas.”

The idea of Last Christmas is not restricted to this episode; it is a Who-ism. It speaks towards people wanting to get together at this time of year with those they love…because there is the chance it might be the Last Christmas they get to do so. The holidays can still be a magical time for some of us, even if Life hasn’t always been kind each and every holiday season, and even if it feels others act like this time of year is more about getting rather than giving…or giving thanks.

Expressions of and gratitude for love are “expected” for those who love Christmas. But for those who don’t love it, I keep in mind all the love they possess, express, and are grateful for. Partners, relatives, pets. Here…and no longer here. None of us can control Life, but all of us can possess and express love every day of the year… and always be grateful for whom we love.

I saw a commercial a few seasons ago from AT & T. The narrator said AT & T knows the best kind of holiday is the one where everyone gets what they wish for. To me, the best kind of holiday -whether celebrating it or not – is one where I express my appreciation and gratitude for those I have love for.

I sometimes find myself at Christmas silently wishing there will be a next. That it won’t be Last Christmas. It can be a sobering concept to think about. Yet, I find myself in those moments also thinking about Biblical interpretations of 1 Corinthians regarding the concept of love.

Love never fades, never fails, never ends.

Last Christmas?

Never.

 

Picture Courtesy iStock

85 thoughts on “Last Christmas”

  1. Your post really struck a chord with me. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. My wife and I stopped celebrating traditional Christmas after our parents died. It felt like the time was right to move on, scale back and treat Christmas differently. Sometimes, people look at us kind of pitifully, thinking we’re sad about not doing the traditional things, but actually it feels to us like a natural evolution. We’ll always have the memories of the old-style family Christmas times but we are not bound by that.

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  2. As an atheist I see Christmas/ Yule/ Saturnalia/ winter solstice as a time when we most need light in the darkness, and a great excuse to make and give presents. I hear I never quite understand when a person says we’ve lost the ‘true’ meaning of Christmas, I guess many people mean the christian message but celebrating this time of year has been around a lot longer than that and constantly evolves. The loss of loved ones is acute at Christmas, and it’s still hard for me to party as an ex-alcoholic so I don’t. To me this is the time of year, as you say, to reflect and feel gratitude for what has been and (hopefully) what will be. So I’ll light my candles and consider others, not wishing for happiness and joy but instead for peace and contentment which are within our grasp. Thanks for a great post.

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  3. Very nicely stated! Holidays have meanings to many, and not so much to many others. We tend to forget that what we believe or have always experienced is not true for everyone- emotionally, spiritually and culturally. I think the commercialism is the worst part and can sap any pleasure found in whatever way you choose to mark this time of year. I also think I could easily embrace the concepts behind old-world traditions associated with Pagan and Wiccan beliefs- both a time to mark an ending and also prepare for a new beginning as the darkness and cold lessen and spring approaches. Trying to be grateful everyday for small things can also lessen the burden to focus on one day as the only significant day.

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    1. Thank you very much, Deb. Your comment cautioning about thinking what we believe or have experienced being similar to others is spot-on. Everyone really views this time of year through their own unique perspective. I also think about the new beginning and rebirth associated with the winter solstice, and that’s a great way to approach not only the end of the year, but the start of a new one.

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  4. Christmas is hard for me. I’m always alone as I have no family in the area, and I know my mom is alone, too. I actually started my blog on Christmas day some years ago, and every year I post something, but that’s my only current tradition. Well,, I watch a lot of classic Christmas movies, too. I know there are those who have it worse. A friend of celebrated her 68th wedding anniversary on Christmas day a couple of years ago, and the next day her husband died. Other friends were also recently widowed. I believe the holidays will be very painful for them, and I pray for peace for them. Anyway,

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  5. I don’t connect Dr. Who with the holidays, though I do reread Dr. Seuss’ Grinch and marvel at the Who’sits in Whoville! Dicken’s A Christmas Carol remains a fav (though I’m not a Christmas fan) because the messages are about just what you mention, love, greed, pain, emotion, revelations… Appreciate the empathy! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a lovely heartfelt post, Bruce. It made me a little teary, and I will make a valiant effort not to be a grinch with my sights on January 2nd. I’ll keep that concept of “what if this is the Last Christmas” foremost in my mind and celebrate all the love and blessings of life. Thanks for the attitude check! The perfect post and just what I needed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Diana. We see messages throughout our life we should live each day like it is our last. But daily life just marched along for me, and I normally shrugged off such advice. Yet, when I was presented with a scenario it might be my Last Christmas, it gave me pause. And now, I do try to celebrate and give thanks each day, and certainly when another Christmas is achieved.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely post. As one who used to adore Christmas and all its excess, I find the older I get the smaller our holiday becomes. After decades of hosting large elaborate dinner parties for unappreciative family members, decorating anything that stood still and stressing myself out trying to find the perfect gifts…. I gave up. We started traveling for Christmas in 2015 and picked a different destination each year. It was carefree, drama free and fun. (Covid killed 2020 & 2021 and this year is still undecided.) Life really is too short. If you live long enough you realize it’s not about the presents… it’s about being present.
    😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Rivergirl. Smaller is better for all of us now too. We have our memories of the prior, larger celebrations but new, more personal traditions are fun to start and maintain. Traveling for Christmas sounds like a great time for sure. Perfectly put – it’s about being present.

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  8. Beautifully written, Bruce.
    I, for one, fall into the bittersweet emotion at Christmas. My husband had a heart attack on December 11, fell into a coma, turned 51 on December 18 and we unplugged him on the 21st. Needless to say 2014 was the year Christmas changed for my kids and me. That said, it still (or even more so) holds a special place for getting together with family. Never was about the gifts. We missed out (like many) on two Christmases thanks to COVID and this year we are looking forward to it like never before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Dale. The experience you lived through and outlined here is a perfect example of life not caring at all what day or time it is. I appreciate you sharing this. It is truly heartwarming to learn you are all looking forward to the holidays.

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  9. You touched all the bases with this post, Bruce. Growing up, Christmas was kind of regimented at my house, so I never fully appreciated the ‘good cheer’ that the holiday was supposed to bring. Weird how some things stay with you into adult life because I went through the motions but didn’t much enjoy Christmas. With the kids grown, my husband and I like the quietness of the season. It’s merry but in a different way.

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    1. Thank you very much, Lois. Your comment made me think about my childhood Christmases and yes, I’d have to admit they were fairly regimented as well. I broke away from that kind of thinking as an adult and most definitely, we now rejoice in the smaller moments of the season like you do.

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  10. Good points, Bruce. Christmas no longer creates the expansive joy I felt when surrounded by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and all my siblings . . . but we celebrate what we can with what we have where we are. As River notes, it’s not about presents . . . it’s about being present.

    Happy Winter Solstice!
    May your days grow longer as the night recedes . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This was a lovely post with much food for thought. As I’m getting older, I’m scaling back the presents/commercialism aspect and now spend the Christmas/Holiday season as a quiet time of reflection on where I’ve been in the last year and what’s to come in the new year. And I love spending time with my family and loved ones and keeping things simple. If you think about it, the Christmas holiday is a blend of many different pagan rituals mixed into various religions. It’s the perfect time of year to put our petty differences aside and just be present with each other.

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    1. Thank you very much, Chad. Your comment is certainly one that applies to us as well. We reflect upon where we’ve been, where we’re at, and definitely where we want to go in the new year. It’s a perfect time for that reflection, while also making sure to be there for one another in the moments at hand, and enjoying the season together.

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  12. Very nice post here, Bruce. It definitely gives us all something to think about. My mother passed just before Thanksgiving several years ago as well, though she had been in poor health for some time and it might have been its own kind of blessing for her. Being an older Dad with young kids, I do my best to soak up all the moments and not take them for granted. Thanks for sharing and I hope you and yours have a great (and definitely not last) Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Vance. My mother was also in poor health when she died, and I can relate to that feeling of likely being a blessing it didn’t go on longer. Continue to soak up all those moments, and I hope you and yours also have a great Christmas…with many more still to come.

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  13. A wonderful ode to Christmas and life.

    The commercialization of the holidays is neither here nor there for me. The merchants are going to merchant and I don’t pay that much mind. What I can’t stand are the people with those wreaths on the front of their cars who refuse to wash or change them! There’s nothing worse than a sooty wreath, I tell you what.

    Hope you keep the Merry, Bruce.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Most people don’t understand how deeply the loss of a dog – a heart dog- can affect someone. I couldn’t even put up a tree for three years after I lost Lexi, my schnauzer, my partner in all things, and the only one I played chauffer to for years as she went here and there in her busy life. Freestyle, Agility, acting as Toto for months in 3 different plays of The Wizard of Oz, leading the local Christmas parade, appearing on stage with other dancers, doing therapy work at a children’s hospital for 10 years, and more, much more. I know it sounds like I’m making this up, but I’m not. It’s now 6 years, and it still hurts a lot. Anyhow, I understand what you’re talking about.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for sharing this here. My cherished cat when I was a youngster was actually born on my bed. And each night after he was born, that’s where he wound up sleeping. He saw me through the highs and lows of growing up. I still think of him today.

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  15. Bruce! This is a wonderful post! There are those who relish Christmas, and those who want a fast train to move on. Understanding that everyone still has love, regardless, is the key. ‘Love never fades, never fails, never ends.’ So true!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Great post! Love never fades, never fails, never ends…it’s so true. My son was away last year in Germany seeing his girlfriend and I was miserable at Christmas…this year he will be here (and her also)…but yea I think of the same things at times.
    My parents got divorced when I was young and Christmas was the only time we were all together the entire year…so it does mean a lot to me. I try to take advantage of it every year and not take it for granted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Max. My parents got divorced when I was a junior in high school, and a couple of Christmases were “lost” in the transition, but after meeting my wife celebrating the holiday season was renewed for me. It is great to hear your son and his girlfriend will be with you this year.

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      1. Yea once those Christmas’s are lost…they are truly lost. I learned not to take anything for granted. Your story is close to mine…when I met Jennifer suddenly Christmas felt like it did before. With Bailey I was a kid at Christmas again. You can’t buy that feeling.
        Bailey felt terrible afterward and that made me feel bad but it all worked out.

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  17. Chaplin: “Around here, it’s Halloween that makes us a little sad, because our vizsla brother Dennis went to the Rainbow Bridge on Halloween in 2018.”
    Charlee: “We still miss him. He was the best brother ever.”
    Chaplin: “… You mean the best DOGGY brother, right?”
    Charlee: “I said what I said.”

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  18. An interesting post. I struggled with Christmas for many years and thought there must be something wrong with me as I just didn’t ‘get it’. The warm and fuzzy, the cheer. I had a lightbulb moment though when I realised Christmas pressure is like body image pressure: we are often shown something manufactured, tweaked and unattainable and left wondering why we can’t also be like that. And now I do it all my own way and appreciate the little moments that feel right to me and it’s better. I do indulge in the guilty pleasure of classic Christmas movies though…*whispers* and the occasional Hallmark one!

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  19. Beautifully said. I realize that this season of Forced Frivolity, as I often refer to it, makes some people deliriously happy. I am somewhat lukewarm about Christmastime. I have many memories of last Christmases that if I allow them could take me to a maudlin place, therefore I attempt to remain somewhat detached from all of it.

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  20. It’s too bad we rarely know when a Last will truly be a Last…but because of that, for me at least, I can appreciate every holiday – and every day, really – for the mere fact that I am lucky to be experiencing it with people I love.

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  21. What an uplifting post and stirring words. You inspired me to put up the ol’ Ikea x-mas tree this weekend! And feel lucky to share it with my husband and father. 🙂

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  22. I do not agree with ATT&T’s idea of the perfect holiday. I’d revise it to: “where everyone finds something to give to someone in need.” This can be an angsty, lonely time of year no matter what your religious bent. But thinking about the idea of “lasts” is sobering. One never knows so best to stay in and try to appreciate the present. Best gift of all!

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  23. Fantastic write-up, Bruce. Somehow, you really went deep into our souls with this one. These supposedly joyful holidays aren’t so for many and sometimes you do need to take a step back and reflect on what you appreciate the most deep down before getting sucked into that vortex of material love. Thanks for sharing this with us!

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  24. The holidays have become so interesting if you live in an area of many cultures. I see less attention paid this year to the holidays but I am still thankful we are here together, my husband and I and the pug in the same house with the same tradition.

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  25. You are spot on about the fact that the holidays are hard on some people. I have friends who don’t have the best relationships with their families, and it’s always a hard on them when they have to deal with toxic relationships or miss the family get together altogether. Timely post and well written too.

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  26. I find it easier to focus on the true meaning, or perhaps the “expanded true meaning” of Christmas now that we’re empty nesters. We buy the things we want and can afford when we feel we need them. Things are things. The gratitude we express, the love we share shouldn’t be limited to a month, or four when, as you point out, retailers kick off the season earlier. Thanks for the reminder that love never ends. I think of the people that are no longer here to share Christmas – I still love them. I miss them and I am grateful for all they did, even if I didn’t understand some of it until they were gone. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, Bruce, and I sincerely hope it is not the last.

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    1. Dan, you reminded me of something in your comment with regard to those no longer with me…how I didn’t understand some things until they were gone. So true in my situation. I hope you and yours have the happiest of holidays, with many more to come in the future.

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  27. As someone who is not especially religious, I tend to separate Christmas day from the entire season as a whole. Yes, the actual day might be tricky at times due to familial challenges and life in general. But my goodness do I love the way my city looks when it’s all lit up and decorated. I hope I’ll always be able to appreciate that about this time time of year; both at the best and the worst of times.

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  28. You truly do never know which Christmas will be the last. Last year my dad wasn’t doing too well and we thought it might be his last Christmas, but he died on Christmas Eve so it turned out the year before was really his last. The saddest thing was that he should have had a few more months, but a careless PA didn’t bother to read his chart before prescribing an antibiotic that someone in his condition never should have had and it killed him. Even worse it was inadvertently the Christmas tree that killed him – he scraped his leg on a table that got moved to accommodate the tree, the scrape got infected, and then came the wrong antibiotic.

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  29. Amen. Thank you for this. I think the last “normal” Christmas our family experienced was 2019, but thankfully, it was not our “last.” 2022 has been a rough year of losses: relationships, deaths, moves–what has comforted me is the knowledge that sorrow will not last forever, and that God in His goodness provides joy–and His never-failing love–even in the midst of tough times. I’ve been quiet on WordPress since I got back from Ireland because I was plunged into yet another move. I’ll be back to writing soon, I hope. Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Kerry. Great hearing from you…was wondering what you were up to. Sorry to hear this year wasn’t the best of times. Your comment reminded me of something I read in my devotional book recently about the strongest trees being the ones with the deepest roots. I always like to think adversity makes us stronger people. I look forward to your writing again, and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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  30. Avery thoughtful and sobering post. It’s true that the wave of (often unrealistic) expectations around Christmas can overshadow the reality, which is that happiness and cheer is not a switch that we can switch on and off. If someone isn’t feeling it, then it can’t be forced and shouldn’t be pushed.

    I also agree that this is a good time to take stock and focus on gratitude for the things we have or have had the pleasure of having. 🙏🤗

    Liked by 1 person

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