by Rachelle Law
Saudade is a term used to explain the feeling of missing something or someone, to talk about something that you used to have and liked (but don’t have anymore), a deep emotional state of nostalgic or reflective melancholic longing.
Holidays tend to stir the feeling of saudade, often a suppressed awareness that longing for someone or something may never happen again. The memory of feelings, experiences, places, and events that once brought excitement, pleasure, and well-being triggers the senses, and makes you experience the pain of separation from those joyous sensations, and cause a feeling of both happy and sad, bittersweet.
Mixed emotions are what I feel during the holidays. The memories of visiting my Grandma Mary’s house were the best by far. There was always plenty of food, music, and singalongs. The stockings hung from the oldest to the youngest under a large window seal because there were too many to hang on the fireplace.
You could count on her to have a candy dish filled with ribbon candy and an assortment of nuts. The house would have a steady flow of friends and family dropping by to enjoy the festivities.
The holiday season can be difficult, and I find myself intentionally praying for friends I’ve lost, and family members who have passed, like Grandma Mary, who passed away in 2008. She was known for her witty cliché’s, opening her home to those who fell on hard times and being an incredible cook. She is the only person I know that can make liver taste like, cube steak. Although, she cooked incredible meals. I loved her desserts, peach cobbler, sweet potato pies, and my favorite, lemon meringue pie.
While scrolling through Facebook a few days ago, someone posted a picture of a fresh baked pie. If I didn’t know any better, I would have claimed it to be Grandma Mary’s lemon meringue pie. I anticipated dinner only to get dessert, a small slice (you only got once slice) of lemon meringue pie; buttery graham cracker crust, a translucent lemon filling cooked to perfection. The meringue was nothing short of a masterpiece, made from a mixture of egg whites and sugar whipped into stiff-glossy peaks browned in the oven to perfection.
Preparing the Christmas meal are the moments I get the feeling of saudade, the melancholy, nostalgia feeling. My emotions yearn for the memories of happiness that have passed and will never be again. I like to think of it as the very presence of absence. I must admit there is a certain pleasure in the feeling. Though painful, the thought of her meringue pie is a reminder of the good that came before.
Saudade is always a pleasure and an indulgence. It is a feeling that manages to give, despite being a confrontation with what has been taken away. It is apocalyptic: when caught in a saudade grip, I become aware of that which is most important to me, that which makes me what I am and who I am.
This holiday season, know you are not alone. Embrace the feeling of saudade, reminisce, and know that it is alright to miss someone or something. It means you really care about the person and you value them.
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