Sentiment and Sentimentality

As I get older, I find I’m simultaneously getting more emotional about things, but less sentimental, too. Is that possible?

For example, I used to be all about the Christmas traditions. Same stuff, every year, looking forward to it all. But this year I’ve been busy, and our new van doesn’t have a CD player so I have no access to my usual Christmas Music Extravaganza, and I’m kind of meh about the whole thing. It’s not like I’m sad or depressed or avoiding, I’ve just got better things to do with my time than get all worked up about Christmas. Trust me, that’s very unlike me, but maybe it’s a good thing, the dawn of a new era. I’m entering my Old Lady No Longer Gives a Crap phase.

I think part of the problem as well is that it’s been warm here. It’s supposed to be 9 degrees tomorrow, which is lovely, don’t get me wrong, especially because I am currently having a Winter Boot Situation, in which I needed new boots and bought new boots and now they hurt my feet and I am in a dither about whether to just write off the expensive new boots or try to suffer through them or just wear shoes all winter, and the lack of snow is certainly helping me put off taking any action. But it does make it hard to get In The Spirit, I find, as I have been conditioned over the years to associate snow with Christmas. I have often wondered how people in moderate climates, say like California or Florida, manage to get worked up about Christmas and its associated decorations of snowy trees and wool scarves and reindeer. Perhaps they just go out for a peppermint milkshake in their sandals and celebrate the season by laughing at those of us up here dealing with Winter Boot Trauma. That probably works, I imagine.

So while I have decided I will less than half-ass it this year (quarter-ass it?), I’m at the same time getting more and more prone to crying over the smallest of things. I’ve always been a little weepy at films and TV shows, but now just a song can set me off. Gal Smiley has been watching Moana compulsively (which is ADORABLE, because she is now 13 and into teen things and yet loves this Disney movie so much, I just want to snuggle her whenever she puts it on), and every time they get to the big song, I can’t even sing the first line without crying.

(Here it is. Have tissues handy.)

And this is not an isolated incident. I cried at writing class last week when reading my own writing, like, I KNOW HOW IT ENDS. And I cried over this Globe commercial I saw on Facebook, even though I KNEW it was going to be deliberately manipulative (lost dogs and tinkly piano music and lonely old men at Christmas, GAH), and not only did I cry over it, I cried for like, AN HOUR. And then yesterday, the three kids got to playing hide-and-seek in the house, and they were happy together and so childlike for hours and hours, and I had to tear up over it because MY BABIES.

I suppose as you get older you become both hardened to the ways of the world – just another Christmas, just another demand on my time, just another year gone by – and yet aware that true moments of kindness and caring between people can be sadly few and far between. So I am both letting go of things and rituals that are too familiar to bring comfort, and yet finding wonder and delight in the human moments that mean we have real connections.

At least, I think that’s the most positive way to look at it. Pass the tissues.

4 thoughts on “Sentiment and Sentimentality

  1. Jacquelyn

    Nailed it, as always Lynn. I think this is what middle age feels like – all kinds of ‘meh’ about stuff that used to feel important, but continuing to cherish the memories and ideals from when those things were important.

  2. I think it’s okay to cry. It’s healthy. And it must have meant the words you had written were coming from your heart!

    Practical note for winter boots: try Winners, they have great ones on sale right now. Or Amazon. I just bought two pairs 😉

  3. A shoemaker might be able to do something to your boots to make them more comfortable. I can’t tell you how many times our local shoemaker has recued shoes / boots and zippered items (he has super heavy duty equipment to put in industrial-like zippers) for only about $10. It’s worth taking them in and explaining where they hurt to see if there’s anything that can be done.

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