Yes, it is. December, that time of year when all around the Western world, people party and shop for pretty things and sing and eat delicious sugary goodies. But not this year. Not if we want to survive. The Covid pandemic has put a big wet blanket over the holiday season.
Which has me thinking about all the less than perfect Christmases I have seen. My mother must be speaking from beyond, because I am thinking of her stories about Christmas during WWII, a lonely and bleak holiday clouded by anxiety over whether her husband and brothers would ever come home again. I am also thinking of my single parent years, and the December night, dark and cold, when I drove after work to Toys R Us to get a boy astronaut Cabbage Patch doll. I had called all the toy stores to find one (no internet back then.) Those were the years we drove, my boy and I, two hundred miles up the NY Thruway to spend Christmas Day with my parents and my also divorced sister and her three kids. Nobody seemed particularly happy. Her tearful little son threw his new cowboy hat on the floor in disappointment. I longed for the week after Christmas, when back at work, we could eat cookies and nothing was as urgent as it seemed the rest of the year. More recently, we all came down with norovirus. Nobody cared much about presents that year, or even eating.
All this reminiscing is meant to make me feel better about not getting together with friends and family as we hope to ‘stop the spread’ of this deadly virus. But really, it’s reminded me that the best Christmases were quiet. The year I spent the day alone with my new boyfriend. The year I was living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, pregnant with my first child, as my husband earned a master’s degree. We went out for dinner in a restaurant lit with twinkly lights, just the two of us.
People I know are today grieving the loss of loved ones. Most of us are making it through this time with varying degrees of worry and longing for better times. But it’s just a day, this Christmas. A day like any other, if we wish. Or a day made special if we like. This year, I hope for a soft, relaxed and quiet Christmas Day, a hearty meal shared with our two sons, a card game or two, and if the weather cooperates, a nice long walk. Comfort and love, nothing more or less than that.