I have a personal confession to make. I cry at Christmas carols. Not of the “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” type… but more of the Bing Crosby and Carpenters genre.
Why would I share this? Catharsis. Analyzing my melancholy over holiday music is making me more melancholy. I can’t seem to figure it out, because the holidays have always been a source of joy, but I am sure others experience this. One explanation is that at this time more than any, we think of people who are not with us, either by death, distance, or duty.
So do we ever get over it? When will I ever be able to keep “White Christmas” on the car radio?
It is almost impossible to conceive things will change – especially if you have reached a point in your life where you find you certain traditions have taken place for years…only building on the nostalgia, reminding you of decades past, and where the time has gone. One tradition that recently sparked this feeling is an annual holiday dinner I have with three close girl friends that we have done for 10 years. It is always a fun time; Proof: A few tables away from us was an “Only-In-LA” comedic ensemble of Larry David, Billy Crystal, and Martin Short all dining TOGETHER. Truth is, there was more laughter at our table.
There are also places that can make us nostalgic – unrelated to holidays. Here are some travel destinations that may make you long for something past:
National Pinball Museum, Washington, D.C.
1) The National Pinball Museum in Washington, D.C. – Relive your youth and forget your troubles for one afternoon while you revisit a childhood game. The museum just opened and is more than 14,000 square feet of pinball machines dating all the way back to the 19th century. There are more than 850 games here. http://www.nationalpinballmuseum.org/
Other must sees for pinball aficionados: Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda, CA… and the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas – more like an arcade, but you probably won’t lose as much money as you would at the casinos since we are dealing with quarters here
Hearst Castle, San Simeon, CA
2) Hearst Castle – Relive the indulgent 20s and 30s when newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst entertained all the movers and shakers up at his San Simeon mansion. Taking some of the tours here will make you appreciate the castle’s history, and bring you back, even if you aren’t old enough to remember the times. Also- if you make it to Santa Monica ever, tour the guest house of Hearst mistress Marion Davies. This was the spot of their vacation home, but all that remains is the guest house, which is open to the public. It is not as ornate or glitzy as the castle, but once again, the history and stories of Davies and Hearst are fascinating. Marion Davies is an interesting woman in her own right.
Freedom From Want, Norman Rockwell
3) Norman Rockwell Museum, Berkshires, MA – His work is iconic…for years on the Saturday Evening Post… reflecting family life and holiday celebrations that can make anyone nostalgic for old-fashioned values. Right now at the museum through Jan. 16, 2011, a special exhibition titled “Home for the Holidays” might put you over the holiday-nostalgia edge.:) www.nrm.org/
4) San Diego Model Railroad Museum in Balboa Park offers a great glimpse at different model trains – and even offers a summer camp for kids. Also the Twin City Modern Rail Museum in Minnesota is another option if you are in the Mid-West..and there are others across the country.
For many, this has always been the childhood toy that brings back memories. I still have one grown up friend who spent a fortune on a model train to go around his Christmas tree…
Of course, you can always climb aboard a train yourself and travel North by Northwest style… There are many amazing train travel tours – the Orient Express is one well-known company, and I’ve always wanted to travel across Canada by train – www.canadiantrainvacations.com, www.orient-express.com
Even though I can’t listen to the music, I can still appreciate the lyrics… so to borrow a line from Bing – ” And though it’s been said, many times many ways… Merry Christmas to you.”