All I want for Christmas is you … and you and you and you …
But who, exactly, are you?
We all have our different you’s who we long to be with, and who we miss if they’re not with us. In most cases, ‘you’ is our family, including the four-legged members. In my case, the ‘you’s are gradually disappearing. So maybe it’s only natural that at times of year like this, confused longings still emerge. There have been so many you’s over the years …
All I want for Christmas is you, my recently-exiled husband. But you’re no longer with me.
All I want for Christmas is you, my long-gone first husband. But you’re no longer with me.
All I want for Christmas is you, my beloved yet troublesome mongrel. But you’re no longer with me.
All I want for Christmas is you, my once-adored mother from that other country which is called The Past. But you’re no longer with me.
All I want for Christmas is you, my secret lover who cannot be named, because you are somewhere else for Christmas, with another someone. You’re with them, not me.
Or maybe some of you cynics will say: “All I want for Christmas is for there to be no bloody Christmas at all! To wipe it off the face of the earth and delete it from the hard drives of our existences. So there! Hah!”
But no. I don’t like the cynics. Errant Hubby numbered among their anti-festive club. My Scrooge-Philosopher, though no longer mine, of course. For better or worse.
So, moving on … all I want for Christmas is you, my grown-up children who have now almost all spread their wings and flown away. We’ll all be together this Christmas, so that’s good. Yes! At least one wish granted! The tooth fairy really does exist, after all!
But never mind teeth. Let’s move on again.
Maybe we should swap the you in our wish list for the word love? All I want for Christmas is love. The love of family – however fragmented or missing, however exhausting. The love of friends, who become one of the best gifts with the passage of time. The love of Christmases past, which always, somehow, seemed better. You know the feeling? More snow back then, more untarnished joy, more simplicity, more anticipation, more spirit, faith, longing … or so we like to think. No harm in that. We all need our dreams, whether they’re forward or backward-looking. Or downright fallacious.
Or how about this one? All I want for Christmas is a roof over my head, food to eat, and a trouble-free world in which to live. But that’s a bit unnecessary for most of us here right now, with our laptops and i-pads and smartphones and blogs. We don’t need to worry about things such as homelessness. We just feel an uncomfortable twinge when we see a beggar huddled up on the pavement, and wonder if we ought to give them some ready change as we hurry past, back to our warm homes. And for a few moments, the holes in our lives do not seem quite so deep. Until the moment passes, and we’re back to our longings. Deceased parents and pets, dispersed husbands and lovers. Why do the years have to complicate things so much?
So maybe all I want for Christmas is to be a child again. Not to think about death or ageing or betrayal, because such ugly things are still so far away. Not to hanker after husbands we do not yet have but who will one day fly the nest long before our future children do. Not to dream of impossible lovers who should not be with us. (Well, that’s all right – they aren’t!) Not to try and re-capture the spirit of that special time of year that brought magic to our hearts, because we’re still in that special time of year. We’re still dwelling in the land of stardust, with our mothers doing all the caring that we need.
Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight!
Maybe true lovers of Christmas wish just for that? To resuscitate the all-consuming love that only a mother is able to give, even though at times it seemed far from perfect? At times it was far from perfect. But it was motherly love, nonetheless, for all its cavities.
When all else fails, when romantic love lets you down, when marriages crumble, when your children leave home, when your parents age and pass away … then at least the memory of that special maternal love lingers on, and is somehow reawakened at this time of year. The ghosts of Christmases past, made unforgettable by the angel who gave you the greatest gift of all – the miracle of life itself. Who needs a Biblical miracle? We are all born of our very own, tailor-made Christmas story. Our mothers saw to that.
Mother, come back from the echoless shore,
Take me again to your heart as of yore;
Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care,
Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair;
Over my slumbers your loving watch keep;
Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep!
Elizabeth Akers Allen knew all about love and longing when she wrote those haunting words.
But the ghosts of Christmases Past are too sad. They’re dead and gone. Or abandoned and gone, which is even sadder. Too much pain. Too many hollows.
Instead, we should concentrate on the magic of Christmases yet to come. Concentrate on whoever we’re with right now, wherever we are – hopefully celebrated in love and joy, not sadness and regret.
So maybe the biggest Christmas wish for all of us should be a pain-free visit to the dentist. A future with all the cavities filled in, now and forever.