I woke up this morning with the feeling that something was missing.
It nagged at me as I let the dogs out. It bothered me while I went about the morning routine of making coffee and distributing kitty kibble. It was a ghostly feeling, just on the other side of realization, not quite clear enough to understand but obvious enough to recognize.
Then, I opened the cupboard door to pick out a cuppa for my morning coffee, and the feeling made sense.
At the front, waiting patiently for my choice, was one of my Christmas cuppas, a gift from a work friend several years ago. Seeing it sitting there made me realize that something is, in fact, missing.
In years past, my December commute to and from work included Christmas music in the car. I’d select a station that was playing holiday favorites, turn up the volume, and sing along.
At the office, my colleagues and I would exchange cards and share homemade treats. We’d wear holiday attire and gather in groups to wish each other festive greetings of the season.
And in the early evening winter dimness as I drove home at the end of the day, I’d see Christmas lights on the houses and buildings. Each one, from the minimal displays to the Griswold-level over-the-top exhibits, was a message of cheer, a beacon of happy energy.
This year, I’m not commuting to work each day; it’s not unusual for me to go several days without even getting into my car. When I do drive somewhere, it’s typically during the daylight hours. I can’t remember the last time I turned on my headlights to see the darkened road. There are no workplace potlucks or cubicle decorating contests, no gift exchanges or holiday parties.
So yes, something is missing this year. The holiday traditions have been disrupted; certain experiences have disappeared.
Of course, in the big picture, these changes are insignificant; there are many more important circumstances and concerns happening in the world right now. And my family and I still have our traditions; we will still celebrate the season. We are grateful for our health, our home, each other.
But I think it’s also okay to acknowledge that little bit of a hollow feeling, that sadness for all that has changed and all that has ended, even if only temporarily. That feeling reminds me not to take the small moments for granted, to appreciate them when they happen. It reminds me that I am fortunate to have had moments that matter enough to be missed when they’re gone.
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh