Don Quixote, Disenchantment, and Writing my Christmas Newsletter
Happy belated Thanksgiving! I sat down today to write my Christmas newsletter, one of my favorite activities of the year, because I think back over the year and what has been the most memorable, whether because it was fun or sad or terrifying. Then, I pick and choose what goes into the newsletter (fun), what stays out (terrifying), and I try to make sense of life in general as I write and edit a simple annual letter that gets tucked into holiday cards and read by hopefully half of the recipients.
One of the things I thought of including in the newsletter was Paso Robles’ Play in the Park. This past September, we went as a family to watch Man of La Mancha at a local amphitheatre. For those of you who have never seen this musical, it tells the story of Don Quixote, the renowned Spaniard who fancies himself a chivalrous knight, all evidence to the contrary. Of our family outings, this was one of my favorites because the kids got to experience theatre in the informal atmosphere of a blanket on the grass and cup of hot chocolate.
Lately, this has been on mind my mind: giving my children memorable experiences. This year, I’ve seen them spending weekends with friends, going away to summer camp, and having full on relationships with people that I’m not really a part of. In short, they are on their way out of childhood and into adulthood. And where – I shudder to think – will they go from there?
In my last year’s worth of conversations, I’ve indentified a trend. I’ve noticed an underlying feeling of disenchantment with the world, a disenchantment that has the nasty aftereffect of taking its toll in the form of fears and worrying for our children who we have brought into this world. What will the future hold for them?
Funny thing about Don Quixote: it also addressed a theme of disenchantment with society – and it came out four hundred years ago. I sometimes think that maybe this disenchantment comes with being in my thirties, upon realizing a new circle of concern and circle of influence, wherein the circle of concern has really expanded and the circle of influence appears undeniably smaller. Maybe others reach this realization at earlier or later times in their lives, but as for me and my peeps, we’re feeling it right now.
There is no single answer to this disenchantment. For Don Quixote, it was the refusal to accept, and to instead treat the world as he wished it to be. I may not have his imaginative power, but I can at least move forward, focusing on the real things that are wonderful. So I’m going to go back to my newsletter and leave out all of this disenchantment and only tell people of the funny times, the good times, the happy books I’m reading, and the funny movies I’m watching. I can tell them about The Boy’s nighttime stargazing, and his self-assured description of himself as being really good at seeing constellations. And for every time The Boy shouts out another constellation (Hey, look! It’s Pegasus!), I can relive Man of La Mancha’s final song lyrics –
And the world will be better for this:
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach the unreachable star.
– and think to myself, maybe there’s a bit of Don Quixote’s imaginative prowess in me after all.
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