I'm writing this mid-afternoon, the day after Thanksgiving.
After breakfast, my oldest son (2.5 years old) and I started to brink up Christmas decorations from our basement. Then we spent time getting our (fake) tree up and decorating it with the rest of the family. As we did this, I told my son about what I can remember from when I was a little kid getting ready for the holidays.
- I told him that my brother and I would want to put our tree up early, but my parents would make us wait till after Thanksgiving.
- I told him how I would check my stocking every day because sometimes there would be something in it. (Some candy, a comic book, maybe a small toy, like a G.I. Joe or Star Wars action figure.)
- I told him about the snow we would get in Michigan (so much snow!) and how I'd go sledding.
- I told him about baking things, which were only baked between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
As I was doing this, I felt lots of different emotions. I was having a good time, feeling like I'd won the cosmic jackpot because I'm living this wonderful life of mine. I've got healthy kids, a partner I adore, a home with family nearby, my student loans are paid off. It was a moment where I was very consciously aware of just how god my life is. I'm generally somewhat aware of this, but this was a moment where I became very aware of it.
At the same time, and this is difficult for me to explain, I was sad. Why?
Because in moments like this, I also become very aware that life does not go on forever. There is a finite amount of time I have to live to have these experiences. (This is now one less Christmas tree decorating I'll do during my life.) It is the feeling of mortality, which tends to hover in the background of my consciousness, haunting me in a general kind of way, moving into the foreground where I have to pay attention to it.
This kind of combination of emotions: Gratitude, joy, and sadness, is a strange collection of feelings. I think this was a moment where I felt both very fragile, very mortal, and very alive.
I don't know if this kind of feeling happens to other people, but I do know if it does, no one seems to talk about it. That's why I choose to write about it today, for you, whoever you are. Just in case you have your version of this sort of bitter-sweet-mortality-jolly-blues that you never talk about.