Merry & Bright -Nostalgia for White Christmas

by Kelli Steele

Jeff shares musings on White Christmas, the movie that inspired the 2023 Old Try Christmas Print


I am a very nostalgic person. The word nostalgia is so very familiar to us from Generation X. We grew up in the jungle of the 80s and 90s on MTV and Hot Pockets, raising ourselves in the wild. About the only time things were soft and kind and good was at Christmas. We were allowed to come inside and be with the adults, the family, around a tree, with food, and with gifts, and with laughter. 

The word nostalgia derives from the Greek words nostos (return) and algos (pain).  The pain is very real for those who suffer bouts of nostalgia. It is a pain associated with time and place, typically from youth, where everything seemed better and everything was as it  was supposed to be. This nostalgic yearning for some wondrous earlier time can be stirred up greatly during the Christmas season. 

As much as I remember Christmases from my childhood as idyllic and perfect, a more honest survey uncovers that they were never quite that. What we idealize in our minds, was in fact full of very flawed people, behaving in very flawed ways, yet doing the best that they could to provide Christmas for their family the best way they knew. One of those flawed traditions, at least in the childhood of my youth, was gathering at my maternal Grandmothers, with uncles that I'd only heard tale of in the family mythos, zealous aunts and second cousins, the black sheep of the family, the distant relations that no-one quite knew too well. Gullible but lovable Cousins from the big city (Cleveland lol) would drop in and fall prey to our shenanigans and trickery.  We had aunts who loved to cook for their families, and were always making us eat, "try this…", "I made your favorite pie".   

And there were always Christmas movies on in the background on Grandma's old RCA model 11 wooden framed television set, one of the first made to accommodate color. I was always taken in the most by "White Christmas", starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kay, and Rosemary Clooney.  It was always on.  And while there were Frosty and Rudolph cartoons, Charlie Brown Christmas, the ubiquitous Miracle on 34th Street, and of course It's a Wonderful Life, I was drawn to the more comedic, sweet, satirical nature of "White Christmas".  For a boy, there's WWII and Jeeps, Generals, music, and dancing girls. There were trains and snow and skiing.  And in the end, through all of the misunderstandings and false pretense, friendship, kindness, and generosity wins the day.  It reminds us that nothing much matters in life without people to share it with. When we look back at that, we can look back, and at the same time, look forward to sharing that feeling with those that surround us, this Christmas. - JB

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