Christmas And Nostalgia – It Lifts Our Spirit

Our Ties To Music, Stories, Religious Observance, and Events From The Past


The essence of feel good and soul enrichment during Christmastime and on Christmas Day is often rooted in childhood and a nostalgia for times past.  It never leaves us.   

In one of the episodes of the hit TV series, Mad Men, broadcast on the AMC network, advertising executive, Don Draper, is making his pitch to Kodak executives for what he thinks should be the name of a new machine Kodak has created that spins and projects, one after another, the images from a cartridge of photo slides on to a screen. Don Draper talks about nostalgia; here is an excerpt from his presentation:

Nostalgia - it's delicate, but potent.  Teddy told me that in Greek, "nostalgia" literally means "the pain from an old wound." It's a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn't a spaceship, it's a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards... it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It's not called the wheel, it's called the carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels - around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.

During the Season, if we have our priorities and values in order, and we are in good health, we are properly and wholesomely seduced with nostalgia.  At what time of year does nostalgia more potently and poignantly pull on us than Christmastime? No time. Christmastime is it. 

And during the Season, those radio stations that broadcast 24/7 Christmas and holiday music enjoy a significant increase in listenership.  Why?   It’s because this music tethers us to – in the words Don Draper –  “a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone.”

No matter how old we are, we should never lose our affection for the Christmas music, and the Christmas stories – told in whatever media –that make us feel a delightful pain. 

Yes, there is such a thing as delightful pain – the type which opens an "old wound."  Christmastime – the experiences of Christmastime – urge, even compel us, to, and thanks again to Mr. Draper, “travel the way a child travels - around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.”

If we have lived in this area, we will never lose our longing for the lights and Christmas display at La Salette, or a visit to Edaville Railroad, or the lit bulbs on the Rockery, or the holiday village in front of Oakes Ames Hall.

This year a new tradition launched, one that will be the stuff of ever growing nostalgia: The Easton Festival of Trees.

For a segment of us in Easton, we smile and think about the Portuguese-American Band and its Christmas Eve visits and merriment and music making.

Christians remember Christmas Mass and the Good Word of His coming.

We remember manger scenes.  We remember poinsettias.  

But, of course, Christians, and those of other faiths and beliefs, all revel in and enjoy Christmastime.

We are brought home again and again – back home to a good place. 

This is what the movie, A Charlie Brown Christmas, (1965), does for us.   This is what, It’s A Wonderful Life, (1946), does for us.   And it is what, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, (1965), and, Frosty the Snowman, (1969), and, The Polar Express, (2004), and, Miracle on 34th Street, (1947), do for us.  

If you want an inspiring and feel good telling of the Christmas story in the age of online communication and social media, please check out this link. I love it.  (Actually, I was made aware of this video when one of my Facebook friends and fellow grad, Denise (Hannigan) Curtin, posted a link to it on her FB page.)

Everyone should be familiar with the 1897 letter exchange between 18 year old, Virginia O’Hanlon, and New York Sun newsman, Francis P. Church.  It is timeless and beautiful; here is a link to the two letters

Read Charles Dickens’s, A Christmas Carol, (1843) – or see one of the movie or TV versions of the story.

Read O’Henry’s, The Gift of the Magi, htttp://www.auburn.edu/~vestmon/Gift_of_the_Magi.html, published in 1907.

There are countless personal remembrances and traditions – the Christmas Eve parties, the Christmas dinners, the Christmas Day get togethers. 

Christmas and Christmastime and the wonderful and happy ache and longing it can bring to us are beyond the rush to the department stores.  We feel joy and happiness, sure, in giving – but also how much of the shopping, spending, and wrapping bring about angst in our souls?

The renewing, enriching, and ever-lasting spirit of Christmas is found in the joy and nostalgia of the season, which may be rooted in today, yesterday, or hundreds of years ago. 

It may be grounded in a time of our childhood when we had not a cent to spend on presents. 

Nostalgia and feeling good need not be about money.

Indeed, the truest and most sacred, the most redeeming and spiritually strengthening, aspect of Christmas – a nostalgia with which it would be well for so many of us to reconnect – is an event that happened more than 2000 years ago.

This event involved a poor, hardworking carpenter and his wife, and the child they brought into this world, whose example and teachings, through the centuries, until today, are the solution to how to bring about and sustain the most love, the most harmony, and the most peace. 


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