I’m just now catching up with the 4th installment of the Hunger Games. Yes, I just saw Mockingjay Part 2.
I’m one of those people who watches Love Actually about a dozen times a year. I re-watch favorite DVDs of Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone-era) like some people eat comfort food…sometimes while eating comfort food. I have a uniquely visceral reaction that involves a dreamy smile and possibly an ungainly pirouette or ten when I hear (again, and again) the beloved first notes of The Nutcracker Suite.
Suffice it to say, I have seen the previous HG movies multiple times each, and plan to watch them all over and over. Repetition, or the pursuit of repetition, has been a subject contemplated by some of the greatest philosophical minds. I’m *not* one of those thinkers. But I can say a few things about repeating, reliving, and moving on with the mantle of sameness wrapped firmly around one’s shoulders. And with a holiday twist.
I cling tightly to the things I love, so it makes sense that repetition evokes closeness, especially in those things we can no longer actually be close to. Every time-not the hundredth time, not just occasionally on the off chance I’m feeling it-but *every time* Peter and Juliet are surprised by David Lynden Hall’s “All You Need Is Love” serenade at their wedding, courtesy of Mark, something stirs in the part of me that still has hope for innocence, for kindness, for surprise. Likewise, every time Sarah chooses her Bon-Jovi-might-be-an-exorcist brother over Karl, a little bit of that belief in the power of love to save fades. (And can I just add what’s been said many times by others, but as I’ve already warned I’m a student of repetition-that Love Actually really lacks from not having a GLBT couple. I admit I put Billy Mack and his “fat manager” together in my head!)
The scene that sticks out for me most from Mockingjay 2 (and by now, there is probably no one else on earth who hasn’t seen it, but just in case: SPOILER ALERT) is a single scene of grief toward the end. It’s a display of sadness and loss by Katniss that typified for me what loss feels like. I lost a sibling whose life I felt it was my job to protect. He is dead. The whole circular plot of the series… where Katniss ends up, considering how she began… has a poetic beauty and truth for me. A screaming, throwing things, drooling-because-you’re-crying so hard truth. And the repetition of a loss that for a time (albeit a much shorter time) renders the character divorced from emotional reality from a literary perspective I found extremely satisfying. That the series opens with Katniss’s mother paralyzed by her loss and ends with Katniss NOT (and mom, too NOT), to me, is a powerful and strong message in a work replete with provocative and meaningful themes.
I don’t know what it is about the holidays that lend themselves so particularly to repetition, tradition, ritual, but this time of year, I seek out the comforts of those things more often that at any time of year. This week heading into the Christmas holiday, I’m not *sad.* It’s not *hard.* I know the holidays are sad and hard for so many, and my heart hurts for you if you’re feeling pain. For me, the holidays allow me to experience anew aspects of my life, to relive, repeat, revisit, even those things that have caused pain.
Documentaries, ballet, cherished shows and songs…I never get sick of the things I love. It seems really fitting that this year, even though I was so excited for the film’s release, I just got around to seeing Mockingjay 2 this week. Loss and grief are closely held friends, and in reliving them I don’t have a sense of being trapped, of being “stuck” in the past or, like Mama Everdeen at the start of the series, half-alive, trapped in the mine of memory.
Instead, this holiday week, I prefer to see experiencing the losses and feeling them as repetition, as bringing my loved ones lost closer, again and again. In the Christmas gifts from last year, in songs, in brunch, my mom is with us again, present in her absence. In the tears of a much-loved fictional character, suppressed tears are released and a sibling long absent is reclaimed.
So while it seems like everyone on the planet is putting elves on shelves while dressed like Chewbacca (and Godspeed if you are!), I’m adding new favorites to my queue while replaying emotions that are familiar but not the same, common and yet not overplayed, the same and yet somehow more in their maturity. In that sense repetition is a lot like going home.
Now, excuse me while I pop in The Nutcracker and twirl a time or two. As I do.
*featured image photo credit:Sadness by Lynn Greyling, publicdomainpictures.net