It’s the ___ time of the year.

I've been thinking a lot about the experience of Christmas.

I've always loved it. December, the holiday season, lights, swirling people, the feeling of joy and humanity mingling amidst once-a-year melodies and buttered-up treats everywhere.

I still love it. Or I will again.

But this has been a tough year.

A very challenging one in multiple ways. 

I have not had the same experience this season. I've tried. And had many good moments and made some good memories. 

I've loved the people I've been with. Drank some good coffee. A lot. Eaten some sugar. Listened to Pentatonix. Tchaikovsky, and Sufjan Stevens incessantly. Every time I try to play something else - say, Cat Power, then I hear "...but Daddy, it's Christmas season, can we PLEASE just listen to Christmas music!" I acquiesce the majority of the time on that one. It's a battle where I'm the perpetual villain.

It's also been a tough season. This post isn't about the reasons that it's been tough. It's about the feeling I've had this season that's different. Right now, it's the present. But someday it will be a memory. 

Someday it will be a memory. 

I love the fragility of memory

and how it lets us move on with life and leave things behind; often times things that should be left behind out of survival or necessity or in order to prioritize new focuses and opportunities. 

But some things need to be remembered, and remembered not just as concrete experiences (what, when, who, where, etc.), but as emotional passages. My heart has gone through some deep tunnels and twisty turns this year and I'm having a difficult time finding the familiar joy I've always felt this time of year. 

I don't think it's a bad thing to try and hang on to the feeling. Not to drag it out or make it more acute, but to make sure I remember. Because some things don't make sense until you experience them. And I feel like I'm having an experience; a passage of something that will pass, but that I should remember. 

I'm sad. At the happiest time of the year. 

The logical part of my brain - and I am very logical in certain ways when it comes to finding clarity - knows that there are many joyful experiences and wonderful times ahead and some of the feelings I have now will dissipate; compost away into the heap of forgotten months that shape you without consciously realizing. I have so many people I care about, so many good things going on, so much to practice gratitude for. I am grateful for these things. Most of all the people; the many people I am surrounded with who bring support and joy in so many ways. 

This is a hard month this time around. Maybe there will be other Decembers like this in my future; I'm guessing the classic ones I'm used to will likely outweigh these. 

But I don't want to forget how tough this has been. I think I need to remember. 

Because I want to understand better, going forward, the people who experience this every year. Every December, every holiday season. The sadness.

The sadness and even loneliness amidst being surrounded by joy and love.

Even when you're in the middle of that and it's directed at you. You can still have those feelings; if I deal with some of these things with the support system I have, then I don't know how so many people deal when they're truly alone and have everything crumbling around.

I don't know, and I want to keep a little piece of that feeling with me; a slice of this month's experience to keep handy and accessible for the coming years when I'm feeling jollygood and it's almost impossible to understand how anyone could

not be feeling the holiday spirit. 

So yeah, I wanna remember. Ideally the right amount. It's hard hanging on to hope sometimes, or trying to find it or resurrect it, but it's still important to keep alive, and maybe, maybe 

I will be there in a future December to be there for someone who understands. Even if it's just a little bit. Who understands how hard joy and jolly can be sometimes. 

In a left turn here, I subscribe to the dual and perhaps dueling ideas that 1) you can and should own up to your feelings and emotions honestly and 2) you can also push yourself to own up to them, and then to continue moving on and sometimes, sometimes, sometimes, even (platitude coming up)...

...fake it til you make it. There is something to that. 

The idea of trying to bring your best, of trying to model for others, especially children, of how you can respond in the face of adversity or things not going your way, and

creating joy and joyful experiences, EVEN WHEN YOU DON'T FEEL LIKE IT, 

and realizing at some point, sometimes, you get sucked into it and it turns real. 

Lot of good moments this season. Lot to remember.

Joyeux Noel, all. Love you. Especially my wife, the delectable and patient Countess Becca who brings joy to so many surrounding her. 

Including me.