Seasonal Nostalgic Disorder (SeND)

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions
Image via Wikipedia

SeND Type 1 

A good friend of mine found himself standing in a store last Saturday. It was packed with people, and there was nothing there he particularly wanted to buy. Still, it’s down to the last week until Christmas, and that immutable deadline looms large. As he looked around, he realized that he had stood in the same store at this same time last year, surrounded by many of the same uninspired and undesired gift options, feeling the same mix of gifting-related despair and panic.  He wondered — just for that brief moment of clarity — why on earth he was back here again, feeling the same way. He promised himself he would not put himself in the same position next year.  But in his heart, he knows he probably will. Somehow, as the holiday approaches, he will forget the hopelessness of the sensation; he’ll convince himself that surely it will all be different this time — and back he will go to the same store, full of false memories and false hope and utterly forgetful of the reality until it slaps him full in the face again.

SeND Type 2

She’s making herself crazy as the holiday approaches. Only a few days left, and there’s so much to do! And if it’s not all done, the holiday will be a failure. Why? Because it won’t live up to some impossibly high standard… some remembered “perfect Christmas.” But the idealized holiday she is holding up as the standard didn’t actually happen. Not really, not the way it’s remembered. The memory itself is flawed; she’s recalled the good moments as idyllic, overlooked the everyday imperfections or transformed them into something else, something lovely or laughable-in-retrospect… forgetting that at the time they were neither. So she is longing to provide something beyond reach, and the stress of “what should be” is ruining her ability to enjoy “what is.”

SeND Type 3

There are people I am missing this year. The obvious ones, of course – the loved ones for whom I hope, and those for whom I have no doubt, that they celebrate Christmas joyfully and eternally and in the very presence of the Lord Himself. That I miss them doesn’t surprise me; in some cases the missing of them is alive and well in vivid tones throughout the year. This “missing” is logical, and does not trouble me unduly. No, the surprises come at odd moments and in surprising directions.

The person whose friendship I continue to value, even though we no longer interact in any way… they are the Christmas card I will send and not even get retaliated but still I can’t NOT send it. // The friend from whom I am suddenly and temporarily so hungry for news that only the knowledge that it’s pathetic and creepy prevents me from a Google search and a quick bout of social-media-stalking. // The urgent need to squeeze in hastily planned lunches and coffee-meetings with people I could see any time in the year … but haven’t.

And now, inexplicably, my heart is just full of these aches. There is no logic to this longing… no need to twist the present in order to recapture a past that may or may not be accurately recalled and certainly can’t be revisited… no urgency for these reunions other than the one I impose on myself.

Nostalgia is a killer, particularly at this time of year.

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