Christmas. It’s always such a jolly time of year. The carols and songs—what heart wouldn’t be cheered by the joy of this season? And yet for many, it comes with a note of sadness. Perhaps now, like no other time, we think back over the years, to memories of Christmases long ago, or not so long ago. Christmases that we celebrated with loved ones—family, close friends—whom we long to see again. To hear the familiar voice, the humor, the laugh. The loving touch.
Perhaps with the passing of time we forget the hardships and darkness of bygone years, and reminisce of golden years in places that, could we go back, we would see in a much different light today. As the Christmas seasons comes, and goes, we are reminded once again that time moves ever forward. We can never return to the Christmases of yesteryear, nor will we ever be able to return to this one again.
Thomas Hardy was a well-known English writer and poet of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He captures this wistful feeling of Christmas in his mournful poem, The House of Hospitalities:
The House of Hospitalities
Here we broached the Christmas barrel,
Pushed up the charred log-ends;
Here we sang the Christmas carol,
And called in friends.
Time has tired me since we met here
When the folk now dead were young.
Since the viands were outset here
And quaint songs sung.
And the worm has bored the viol
That used to lead the tune,
Rust eaten out the dial
That struck night’s noon.
Now no Christmas brings in neighbours,
And the New Year comes unlit;
Where we sang the mole now labours,
And spiders knit.
Yet at midnight if here walking,Thomas Hardy – 1840-1928
When the moon sheets wall and tree,
I see forms of old time talking,
Who smile on me.
For many of us, this minor note of reminiscence can be heard in our hearts as we celebrate Christmas. Sometimes, it may ring only faintly in the background. Other times, the cords of sadness become a deafening cacophony of melancholy.
As I read this poem, I asked myself, “How can we look up, this Christmas season?” As we reflect over this year, we can hear many notes of sadness. But may we also rejoice, for all is not gloom. Life awaits those who seek it, with the promise of better days ahead!
So, I thought to add a few lines to Thomas Hardy’s melancholy poem:
Here we sang the Christmas carol
And called in friends.
Though many have left us,
others have come in.
New songs swell the night
Where old tunes have grown still.
Warm hearths, and candle light
Soft in the night, a cry
a child, a babe, awakes.
And in his call, hearts thrill–
hope he relates!
For though age hollows hopes today,
yet in that manger child
Fresh thought, new life awake–