Christmas Lights & Nostalgia

Christmas Lights & Nostalgia

I’ve been wanting to do a post that bends just a little closer to what traditional posts had been like, prior to the Life in Lockdown posts, and different from the Cheesy Christmas posts.

So… indulge me if you will as I just talk a bit, generally speaking:


I don’t know what it is exactly, but I’ve been a bit nostalgic of late. It manifests itself at different times and in different ways, but it’s usually tainted with just a hint of sadness.

Is it particularly the case today because we put our tree up?

Was the feeling amplified as I looked through a pile of old Christmas cards from friends and family?

Oh heavens… I realize, as I write, that misty eyes are not all that distant.

Every once in a while I think I become aware of the weight that 2020 has piled on. For the most part we’ve all just ‘dealt with it’, right? We’ve all taken things in stride as much as possible (because you can’t do anything to change things anyway), kept a stiff upper lip and pressed on. But every now and then you realize what you’ve lost in 2020 and one of the biggest is direct human contact.

2020 Fatigue

  • It was a revelation to see some of my students via video conference, because for most of them, I’d never seen their unmasked face. I’d taught them for weeks & not known what they looked like.
  • I’m a handshaker… I shake hands to introduce myself, to express thanks & gratitude, to greet and to affirm the other person. I’ve lost that ability and it’s put even more distance between me & others.
  • When I look at the extent to which many believers have embraced conspiracy theories, it makes me lose a bit of confidence.
  • Beyond that group in particular, societies are increasingly unruly… chaos increasingly the rule, rather than the exception.
  • Global geopolitics have changed drastically… this is not the same world I grew up in.
  • I miss the fact that we can’t just, off the cuff, gather with friends or invite folks over… The spectre of social distancing looms large. That was always such a part of Christmas… getting together with friends.

I don’t know about you, but 2020 has me worn out: mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Missing our Home…

We occupy a great house here, and the weather is great for gardening… I’ve got roses here that I could not have successfully cultivated back home. However, it’s not our house, we rent, and there are times when I really miss our old house (pictured above).

  • I miss the three big picture windows that flooded the living / dining room with light all day.
  • I miss the display case / mantle that we could dress up at Christmas and fill with knick-knacks.
  • I miss looking out from atop the hill and the open field & houses below.

It’s only been 5 years, but in some ways, it feels like much longer.

Missing Friends…

Back in Saint John, I was living in the city where I grew up. A number of the friendships with folks at church were upwards of 17 years. Outside of the church circle, there were friendships that dated much further back.

Here, at the very best, friendships are 5 years old and even at that, there’s a degree of formality in a lot of friendships with the French.

Connection to Home…

Want a laugh?

I did something, earlier this week, that took me right back home to New Brunswick.

On a trip home in 2016, I found an old license plate on the side of the highway. I brought it back, intending to give it to the Canadian café here in town who already has a couple of Quebec license plates hanging on the wall.

I must’ve put it away for safe keeping at one point because I came across it this week after having forgotten it long ago. Since restaurants are all closed here, there was no way for me to get it to them so instead, in my ‘sense of heightened nostalgia’ I did something typically ‘rural New Brunswick’… I hooked it to an outbuilding, in this case the chicken coop.

Sorry for Whining!

In many ways the Lord has blessed us here and I know what many might think…. “Living in France isn’t exactly a huge sacrifice.” and that’s true. There are lots of really good things about living here, including:

  • the possibility of buying a nice, little, colourful bouquet of roses for only 3€.
  • the ability to put up the Christmas tree and gather fresh chard & kale from the garden, all on the same day (ie. today).

… but you’ll really only be able to relate to how I’m feeling, if you’ve ever lived far from home for an extended period of time.

In all this…

… the Lord is good!

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