Empty Chairs: When Christmas Is Tinged With Nostalgia

· June 12, 2017

Table all set. Empty chairs. Broken relationships. Separated families. Christmas, a time for revelry and reunions, is tinged with nostalgia, sadness, anguish, and unrest. No longer can you feel the splendor of these jolly days. We no longer anxiously await the joy of that date.

No more. There are no more sparkles, because someone is missing. Because everything has changed so much over the years that we have lost that wonderful illusion that invaded us as children. We no longer maintain the innocence that used to mark with joy any small detail. Because any and every little thing was full of unbreakable magic. Sadly, nowadays, grudges and absence no longer let us enjoy any of this.

Why does sadness invade us especially during these dates? Those moments in which festive days are approaching and everything starts: the preparations, the gifts, decorations and choosing the menu. That’s when memories emerge and flood our minds. We cant avoid them. The power of Christmas calling makes us even more aware of absences, past decisions and surprises.


santa hat on the ground by a river
How many of us will there be on the 24th? And the 25th? Who’s coming, and where am I going? 

How many of us will there be on the 24th? and the 25th? Who is coming over and where am I going? Inevitably, when these questions arise, so do the empty chairs. Empty chairs that correspond to people who are no longer around. People who have left or have passed away. Memories of moments that now seem even more happy and full. More ours than those that are yet to come and, of course, the ones we are currently experiencing.

Those who are far away, people whose life lead down a different path. People who have chosen to not be around, who are now filled with enmity, who have been taken by death. Empty chairs that, though they aren’t physically filled by anyone, accompany us in these festive days in order to transport the suffering into the present moment. 

A suffering that had been kept under anesthesia, asleep due to our daily lives. And yes, the empty chairs hurt. They fill our eyes with tears, our soul with grief and with the hugs that were left with no bodies to embrace.

They hurt, indeed. But, there is a space to hug in these empty chairs. A space to hug, accept and name without suspicion. And I say without suspicion because we can’t forget that, although we could cry over the empty chairs, the ones that are filled deserve our smile.

girl with santa hat and string lights

Christmas is a contradiction

Christmas is a contradiction in itself. The magic generated by sharing moments and reuniting, clashes with the pain that these absences make us feel. It clashes with the longing we feel for the people who have passed away or the resentment over a chair that remains empty. Or the emptiness of a chair that has been provoked by the disagreements throughout the current year, as well as those that have passed.

We can’t ignore the empty chairs, but we also can’t ignore the ones that are occupied, full of presence and love. It’s likely that not all the occupied chairs provide us with well-being. Yet, this shouldn’t undermine the value of the possibility of enjoying the chairs we like. Remember that life, by definition, will separate us at some point from the chairs we now adore.

two tiny snowmen

So, during these holidays, indicated for some and relegated for others, we can’t forget to have a toast for everything we are offered. Because it’s always good to raise a glass and be grateful for the fact that our heart is still beating. This way we offer peace to the chairs that are occupied and also remember the good times when the empty ones were still with us.