Tuesday, December 24, 2019

I've just one wish

There’s a Christmas song that’s been on my mind lately because its words have taken on new resonance. It mentions Christmas Eve specifically, so sharing and talking about it today, Christmas Eve in New Zealand, makes sense.

Nigel and I both liked The Carpenters, but their 1970 song “Merry Christmas, Darling” had been one of my favourites since it was released. As I said back in 2010, “For many years, this song was on my AM radio shortly before I got up to open my presents on Christmas morning, and this was way before it was ever available for purchase.” Technically, that last part wasn’t true: It was released as a single the year it was recorded (1970), and was re-leased in 1974 and 1977. I didn’t own it until I bought their 1978 album A Christmas Portrait, and I didn't know it had been a single until I prepared this post. Actually, the song was re-recorded for that album (that version is in the video above, which is from their TV Christmas special) because Karen Carpenter didn’t like her vocals in the original. The lyrics were written by Frank Pooler in 1944, and Richard Carpenter wrote the melody in 1966.

Talking about that’s really just stalling, though. Sure, I’ve talked about songs before, but they were ordinary ones, not one that was strongly resonating with me at the time. This song means a lot more to me this year than any other, and while this song has emotional resonance because of fond memories of my late childhood, the reason it resonates this year is the lyrics:
Merry Christmas darling
We're apart that's true
But I can dream and in my dreams
I'm Christmas-ing with you

I've just one wish
On this Christmas Eve
I wish I were with you
I wish I were with you
Nigel and I had no particular Christmas traditions, apart from spending it with family, so in that sense I’m not particularly upset about Christmas—I’m upset I’m not spending every day with Nigel. Since everyone talks about how special the day is for them, about spending time with loved ones, and the things they’ll share with their loved ones that day, it all reminds me that for the first time in 24 years I won’t be with the person who mattered most to me.

I’m prepared for it to be a trying day for me, but it’s only the first one I’ll need to face over the next month.

Every year for about as long as I can remember I’ve seen in each New Year, even the years when everyone else was asleep. But even in those years Nigel usually woke up at midnight and we had our first kiss of the year. I told him once that there was an old superstition that the first person you kiss at midnight on New Year will be the person you’ll be kissing at the end of the year. Clearly that’s bullshit—but I'm glad for every New Year kiss we had.

My plan for this year is very different from what I’ve done my entire life: I plan to go to bed well before midnight. It’s the only way I can think of to protect myself from what is sure to be a crap time for me.

Three weeks later it’s my birthday. Nigel always made a fuss over that (because he knew I liked it when he did). I’m tentatively planning a housewarming in the new house a few days later, on a weekend that has happy memories already, and that’ll give me something positive to focus on instead of feeling miserable.

I can’t have the one wish I have for Christmas or New Year or my birthday: To have my life with Nigel back. I know that. I also know that I have to protect myself from what could be a very, very difficult month for me, so I have plans and strategies to help—and some of them may even work.

Nevertheless, I still just have one wish on this Christmas Eve: I wish I were with Nigel.

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