I shall start this musing with a direct quote from my son Danny. Dan is an interesting young man. He graduated high school a year early, then got a BA in Spanish while nearly completing a minor in French, and picking up some Chinese, German, and Biblical Greek along the way. Now he’s 21 years old, and teaching English in China. This is what he posted on our private “Family Talk” thread on facebook:
“Wow. Nostalgia overload. Just finished watching Cinderella with my nice students here in Jingjiang, and the combination of nostalgia, loneliness (created by the language barrier), tiredness (the heater workmen woke me up 2 hours earlier than usual), and some truly nuggety middle schoolers this afternoon– I had my first and only solid cry since coming to China. I miss you guys, but I also miss the old version of you guys, and the old (i.e. little kid) version of myself. Ah… the passage of time– so depressing.”
My response to Dan’s post was, “I miss us, too!” I feel increasingly like this. I love and thoroughly enjoy my kids as young adults, but there are times when I quite piercingly miss my little ones. Laughing at the memory of an old prank or a formerly mispronounced word can bring tears to my eyes. Looking at old pictures can be downright disastrous. I have a slew of old photos and other memorabilia that sorely needs sorting, organizing, putting in scrapbooks, perhaps, and I’ve been very busily putting it off.
And I suffer from a double layer of this condition at Christmas time. Memories of our beautiful tree in the corner of the living room back at the farm, the popcorn balls and fudge Mommy would make every Christmas Eve while we trimmed the tree, trying to sit still and pay attention as Daddy ended the evening with a reading of the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke (and spending a good part of the reading admiring the tree through squinted eyes,) then my four sisters and me all crowded in Mom and Dad’s bed, where we slept each Christmas Eve night. And as we lay there, giggly and excited, our wonderful daddy’s voice coming up the stovepipe hole, “Ho! Ho! Ho!”
Yes, I miss us! I miss melting tinsel strands on the big, old style Christmas tree lights with my sister Kathy. I miss watching our daddy put on each article of clothing he received, so that he grew fatter and fatter as the gift opening progressed. I miss the orange in the toe of my red stocking, and the popcorn ball in the heel. I miss the ribbon candy, and the trays of dried fruit someone or other sent us each year. I miss my mommy and my daddy, and the constant togetherness I once took so completely for granted.
Yes, I miss us! I double miss us! And I find myself longing for a time and a place where my mother will get to hear my daughter sing, where my children can laugh at my daddy’s dry humor, where the joy and wonder of my childhood and my children’s childhood will somehow be all there together. CS Lewis once wrote, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” This is definitely such a desire. An impossible desire – ridiculous and unreasonable, by normal earthly standards. But that’s my desire. An out-of-this-world desire that can only be satisfied outside of this world.
And it’s appropriate, I guess, that this desire is strongest at Christmas time. We are remembering the birth of an out-of-this-world Child. He once said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Ah, such a place it must be! Where time is no more. But now, for a while, I miss us. Oh, how I miss us!