Photo Credit Paula Woods, Cleveland, Ohio


It’s that time of year.

Actually, for me, that time of year starts around early September. That time of year that I can only identify as….Wistful.

The dictionary defines it as: “having or showing a feeling of vague or regretful longing.”

The thesaurus gives us words to describe it like: Contemplative. Mournful. Reflective. Nostalgic. Melancholy. Dreamy. Yearning.

September is the month my Dad died. It was sudden. I was young. It changed my life.

September was the beginning of the new school year. Hopeful. Filled with possibility. And a touch of dread.

October is harvest time, Halloween, candy corn, and temperatures getting cooler.

November is the time change, my best friend’s birthday (he’s no longer on the planet), the complicated experience of Thanksgiving.

And the on-coming storm known as “The Holiday Season” which leads right into the ever-imposing New Year moment.

So much of my childhood, young adulthood, well, my life, really, is wrapped up in this time of year and, without realizing or anticipating it, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of wistfulness today.

I don’t think I would call it “regretful longing,” though. I don’t much go in for regrets. Longing, sure. I can get on board with some longing. Not regretful though. Just….well, I think the thesaurus has it right.

Melancholy. Nostalgic.

If my life was a movie, this time of year would be filled with flashbacks. Moments of watching junior high soccer games and Halloween parties. Friday night skating. Choosing who I would fall in love with that year (confidently picking the one person who would never return my feelings).

New shoes and clean notebooks. Starting over and then, all too quickly, falling back into the patterns of “me-ness” that I couldn’t seem to escape.

And “that song.” It doesn’t have to be a particular song. Just “that song,” the one that — when I hear it — my soul kind of aches a little bit. And my heart groans just a little bit. That song brings a smile and tear and….memories.

As an adult, this time of year is all about sweaters and fireplaces, hot cider, wearing socks again. Putting away the summer stuff (light shoes, fans and A/C units) and breaking out the blankets, flannel sheets, and long-sleeved shirts.

Getting the new planner for the year ahead and writing in all of the birthdays and special dates I need to remember.

It’s deeper than all of that, though. It’s deeper than the time change and the loss of light.

Longing. The awareness of time passing. The awareness of the change in me. In my body. In my thoughts. In my perspective.

It’s not as sad as it sounds. As I am writing this, it seems to sound somewhat sad and that was not my intention.

I just wanted to try and capture the feeling of wistfulness. It’s not an easy essence to capture. Like most concepts, it’s more like trying to capture the dust we see when the afternoon sun shines through the window. Or like the leaves that rained down from the trees today as I walked Maddie around the neighborhood. Can’t really catch those things. Not with any kind of gracefulness, that is.

And now, with the world in quarantine, needing to stay away and inside, the sense of wistfulness is feeling even more intense.

The “holiday season” is looking very different for some people. For me, not much is changing. It’s been years since I have shared the holidays with friends or other people. There were those times….ah, again, the wistfulness…..

This feeling, this essence of “wistful,” it seems to have a mind and agenda of its own. It shows up when it wants to and lingers as long as it feels like it.

In some ways, I dread it. And, in many other ways, I grieve when it decides that its good and ready to move on.

Hello! I am an Interfaith/Interspiritual Minister. With my faithful pal, Maddie, I navigate the waters of this life.

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