David Saetre offers stories and reflections on the season, including the dynamic inter-play of memory and expectation. Christmas has become a cultural phenomenon, much more than a religious celebration of the Christian religion. It has engulfed Hanukah and New Year’s Day into an amalgam of symbols and festivities that define the outlines of our entire culture. The season has also acquired a pull on our emotions, evoking memories that include nostalgia for the past and recollections of those no longer living. There’s something about Christmas that expands our grief and increases our longing and loneliness.
There is a line from one of our familiar carols, “the hopes and fears of all the years are rest in Thee tonight.” Many of us do that to ourselves during the holidays – we place all our hopes and fears in the basket of the days around Christmas and New Year’s. And, we construct personalized expectations and hopes for “peace on earth, good will toward all – in my family at least,” which prove only to disappoint with the impossibility of fulfillment.
Saetre’s talk explores the emotional and spiritual dimensions of this seasonal phenomena with reflections on his own experience and some suggestions toward a happier relationship to the season.