Comfort and joy

Do you remember the television special, ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’? The Vince Guaraldi soundtrack made it into something truly special. And as I get ready to celebrate another holiday all these years later, listening to ‘Christmas Time is Here’, I feel nostalgic. Not sad but melancholy.

Christmas feels bittersweet to me now. The feeling grows with each year that passes. As if the weight of all those Yuletides past, the joys and the sorrows, good times and bad, cast a shadow on the present, no matter how happy.

Last year was a sad Christmas. Recovering from Covid, my husband and I spent it without any family other than each other. Food had lost its taste but the dog’s farts still made my eyes water (how is that?), I had no energy and little appetite for any of the usual things. But it was oddly relaxing. The pressure was off. Zero expectations meant that any joy that did come along was unexpected. Oddly, it was sort of fun, or at least memorable.

Two years ago, pre-pandemic, in another lifetime, we were all together for Christmas in Canada. Family, friends, childhood holiday traditions revisited. It was joyful but exhausting. Yet, especially in hindsight, I am so glad we went ‘home’ for Christmas in 2019 because life is short and who knows when we will do it again?

This year, if the French trains cooperate, we will celebrate Christmas together at home here in Switzerland with our children and their grandfather. No matter how bittersweet, I will raise a cup of cheer and savour every last drop.

Tidings to you, dear blog friends! May your fondest wishes come true as we ring out this crazy old year. Bring on 2022!


  1. kairosia · December 24, 2021

    Yes, pieces of Vince Guaraldi’s brilliant soundtrack wind up on every Christmas playlist I contrive.

    From the time I was 25, decades back, I’ve longed for family members at Christmas. We seem always to have *some*, and enJOY whoever is near, but that doesn’t keep my heart from reaching for the absent others, a sort of grace, I suppose, to love so many.

    But as you point out, each holiday season is differently composed. That, I think, is key to sidestepping melancholia—replacing its “black bile” origins, with Milton’s “fresh woods and pastures new.”

    I’d retain Guaraldi, however, as part of the mix.

    • MELewis · December 25, 2021

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments! I think you’re right — the secret is enjoying the mix, however different it is to what you might have remembered or hoped for. That cast of characters we’ve loved (and hated) at Christmas time over the years (I think almost fondly now of a late drunken aunt who made our family events a living hell) will always be there in the background. But Guaraldi will be playing again in our home for sure. Hoping your mix is just right!

  2. Becky Ross Michael · December 24, 2021

    A wonderful memory. Thanks for reminding me of this! Happy holidays!

    • MELewis · December 25, 2021

      Thanks so much Becky! Hope your holidays are filled with fun and good memories!

  3. Suzanne et Pierre · December 25, 2021

    Merry Christmas to you and your family. I certainly hope your kids will make it…Here it is another quiet Christmas as new restrictions on gathering sizes have been put in place so we are celebrating Christmas quietly just Pierre & I. We will see family members between Christmas & New Year and probably in outdoor settings…We are getting used to celebrate Christmas this way so it is fine. (Suzanne)

    • MELewis · December 25, 2021

      Thank you, Suzanne. The kids and my father-in-law made it here yesterday and we are really grateful to have them together with us this Christmas. All things considered, a small gathering is probably for the best this year. Nice to know that family visits can still happen, even if outdoors. Wishing you and Pierre a merry little Christmas and happy photographic travels in 2022!

  4. Susanne · December 25, 2021

    The Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack is one of our annual favourites, too. I’m trying very, very hard not to get bogged down in melancholy which even before the pandemic threatens at Christmas. Like you, I feel a sense of relief that there are few expectations. Covid is keeping the bar low enough to manage. But I sure do miss our large family gathering on Christmas day. As I’m sure you’re aware, things have shifted dramatically here and we will once again be dining solo. If you’d like to view a truly melancholy but beautiful video, watch this new one of Joni Mitchell’s song River.

    • MELewis · December 29, 2021

      Thanks for your wishes, Susanne, and sorry I missed this reply in time to wish you a ‘merry little’. It seems that this pandemic once again sadly screwed up plans for many. We were extremely lucky that our gathering went as planned (with all the small frustrations of any family Christmas). I was so grateful to have our kids with us that I found myself not really minding the melancholy that slipped in. That song is one of Joni’s sweetest and how wonderful to get the video just in time for the holidays. I do hope that you were able to enjoy your day without missing the family too much. Hopefully Omicron is the beginning of the end of this craziness, and next year will see us back to big gatherings. 🤗

  5. acflory · December 25, 2021

    Hoping your Christmas was/is relaxing and happy. Hugs from Meeks and The Offspring. 🙂

    • MELewis · December 29, 2021

      It was and I am! Thanks for your wishes, Meeks. Hope it was the same for you and the offspring. May 2022 bring us back to a bit more life! 🙌🏻

      • acflory · December 29, 2021

        Thanks Mel. I know 2021 was a bit of a…disappointment…but I still have hopes for 2022. Stay well. 🙂

      • MELewis · December 30, 2021

        Hope springs eternal. And it seems that Dr. John is optimistic so that’s good news for 2022!

      • acflory · December 30, 2021

        Yes! lol Let’s hope he’s right. 😀

  6. Colin Bisset · December 25, 2021

    Looking back, looking forward, dead right. Hope you’re having a happy one, and look forward to your posts in 2022!

    • MELewis · December 29, 2021

      Thank you, Colin, and right back atcha! I’ve had my booster of Christmas cheer and am looking forward to ringing out 2021. Hoping yours was merry and wishing you a joyous new year!

  7. Vanessa in France · December 27, 2021

    Belated Christmas wishes. I’m glad your family got to you. We spent ours with four friends, having all done lateral flow tests on Christmas morning. There is something strangely melancholy about Christmas, especially in these times. I had to laugh at the dog’s farts! Having had labradors when I was young, I sympathise.

    • MELewis · December 29, 2021

      Thank you for your wishes, Vanessa. Glad you were able to celebrate Christmas with friends knowing you were clear of the dreaded virus. It seems to be the practice in Canada, too, where my far-away family all did rapid tests before opening gifts. I am grateful we were able to have our family get together here without a hitch, and my daughter is now safely back in the UK (although her boyfriend who stayed there for Christmas tested positive just before she landed). Wishing you a very happy new year and looking forward to reading you in 2022!

      • Vanessa in France · December 29, 2021

        Bonne fin d’année and happy blogging in 2022!

  8. Katherine Wikoff · December 28, 2021

    I’m late in catching up with blog posts and am so glad to see in the comments that the trains ran and your family was able to make it for Christmas. Merry/Happy to you and yours!🎄❄️⛄️🎉

    • MELewis · December 29, 2021

      Cheers, Katherine! Glad you caught up in time for me to wish you all the best for a happy and healthy start to the new year. 🥂

  9. margaret21 · January 4, 2022

    All good wishes to you for 2022. Yes, Christmas is a funny old time at the moment. Two of my three children and their families had their plans thrown into disarray by their getting Covid at the wrong Time – is there a right one?. Spanish daughter stayed healthy, as did her daughter, but her partner was ill throughout (not Covid, but a look-alike). I hope your own Christmas plans came good?

    • MELewis · January 6, 2022

      Thank you, Margaret, and a very happy new year to you! We were very lucky at Christmas. My daughter got here from the UK as scheduled (no cancelled flights and 4 negative Covid tests there and back), the weather made the driving easy for the others and we were able to celebrate with our family in good cheers and full health. Sorry your children had problems. You are right: there is no good time for Covid, but perhaps there are ‘worse’ times than others to be impacted by it. Hope you were able to enjoy Christmas despite the disruptions!

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