Hiraeth, the word with no easy translation
There I was, sitting late in the evening taking care of some (admittedly) very late Christmas cards, when it hit me – the expected feeling of homesickness that nevertheless slams me every year in the most unexpected manner. Arriving with the force of an easterly wind, the feeling of longing was so strong it nearly took my breath. I put down my pen, closed my eyes and for several minutes simply lived in the moment of that achy feeling.
It’s hard to explain to someone who’s lived in the same place their entire lives, but those of you who’ve moved from where you’ve grownup will likely understand. It’s as though a part of me still exists in the northern interior where I grew up, and sometimes that part calls me home so strongly it’s nearly impossible to resist and kind of painful. For me it feels like more than just homesickness,and remarkably after sharing this with friends on facebook, one of them posted this:
“Maybe the word you need is Hiraeth: It’s Welsh for the yearning, the nostalgia, or the grief for the lost places of your past.”
Yes. Hiraeth. This is exactly it. It is a yearning for the Christmas’s and winters of my childhood, for everything that was good and magical about those memories. The many nights spent outside watching northern lights in snowbanks created when my father shoveled off the roof – a spectrum of moving,living prismatic colours dancing across the sky as though accompanied by a symphony.
I long for the many wonders of snow in all its incarnations. Soft and yet crisp in the extreme cold, that Styrofoam sensation of really dense snow is so fun beneath the feet, or tossed up in a cold handful into the light of the sun to watch a thousand sparkling crystals fall to the ground. Did you know snow even has a smell?
Christmas trees didn’t come from Ikea but from the forest after a snowmobile ride into the back forty with a sled pulled behind. My dad would knock the snow off of what seemed like hundreds of tree’s at the urging of my mother – cursing the snow that fell down his collar- until at long last he would simply declare: “THIS is the tree!” and we would laugh and go home.
The smell of wood smoke from a fire burning at the hearth…or perhaps the resinous scent of evergreen boughs decorating the stair rails, it’s always the nearly undefinable moments that bring forth this feeling. It’s a blur of scent and sounds, feelings of happiness and emotions full of love from the past and present combined. And it passes,always, but while it lasts the feeling of separation is strong, inconsolable and not without a bit of melancholic nostalgia.
While my home is now here on the coast, I embrace and respect this longing as a sign of how much of me is still very much a part of where and how I grew up, a connection to something bigger and more important. I love the past, but enjoy greatly the present and look forward to the future.
The yearning for Christmas past mingle with the joy and discovery of Christmas new. Old values, new traditions. Change is inevitable but good. Sometimes home isn’t a place,but the people you are with and happiness is found with those you love, be it friends or family.
To my friends and readers, I hope you find gratitude for the blessings in your life this Christmas, are free from hunger, have a warm roof over your heads and kindness in your heart. There is so much more that brings us together, than keeps us apart.
In the wise words of Roy L. Smith:
“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”
** In the New Year, I’ll have that new update on a story done earlier this year on Liberal cronyism gone wrong – very wrong. (In fact,it’s a bit sickening) In addition to our first Duel of 2015. I’ll also be doing some work on the blog,so don’t be surprised if you see it down for a day or two, and updating the 100+ Reasons the Liberals Need to Go – please feel free to add new concrete examples to the comments section with a link if you can!