“Twas four days before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…”
Hi Everyone, just four more days until this controversial Christmas that has everyone stressed out, trying to decide what they should do responsibly, what their families expect of them, and what their neighbors will say…or just do whatever they want. And even the people who truly believe they are responsible, and work hard at it, make concessions here and there. Even people in government and the people who are supposed to set an example have made some flagrant mistakes, and broken their own rules.
I hope you had a good week as we lead up to Christmas. Only four more days, and I do find people anxious and stressed out at the moment. But who can blame them. Our own family faced a minor dilemma. For all of my children’s lives, Santa Claus has made an appearance at the end of Christmas Eve dinner, usually at dessert, and by then some wine has been served now that they’re all adults. We hear the bell ringing, and a minute later, there is a resounding Ho Ho Ho!!! outside the dining room, and then there he is. Large and Round, in a red velvet suit trimmed in white plush, with his wide black leather belt and boots, white mustache and beard very convincing, his hat and his sack, and he enters the room and circles the table, stopping at each member of the family to make an appropriate comment about how did that car work out for you, and do you like the boyfriend I sent you last year…..how’s your cooking coming…how’s the puppy I brought you two years ago. And for those moments, no matter how old we are, we really believe he’s the real deal (if he does his job well. That does not include the Santa several years ago that we now refer to as The Communist Santa, who saw us living and eating well, nicely dressed for Christmas eve, and gave us a very stern and surprising lecture about what kind of people were we that we didn’t give away everything we have, and live more simply while working to free oppressed people around the world. We didn’t have him back. The message was a little heavy for Christmas Eve). And always at the end of Santa’s tour of the table with knowing comments, we take turns sitting on Santa’s lap, for photo ops, no matter how old we are (me too), and ask him for the impossible, hoping that by some miracle we’ll get what we ask for, a new house, a better job, a husband, a wife, a baby. We all enjoy a warm moment with Santa. But in this year of Covid, even he is having to work remotely. We took a family vote, and Santa got voted out both times, the conclusion was that the visit from Santa on Christmas Eve just isn’t worth the risk, even though we’ll all miss him. Only my three children spending Christmas together would have had the visit, everyone else will be in their own homes, to keep Christmas small and risk free this year. Their other siblings and I won’t be with them, they’ll be in their own homes. And I guess Santa will be at home at the North Pole this year, and Rudolph will deliver all the gifts on his own with the other reindeer. So No visit from Santa for us this year. The origin of the at home Santa visit was so that I didn’t have to stand on line for 3 hours at some department store with nine young children, while all the other children coughed and sneezed, and mine inevitably caught the flu from them. And we’re dealing with a MUCH bigger flu now. But our tradition of the Santa visit has lingered, and hopefully will be back next year. We are sad not to be seeing Santa this year, but it’s one more change due to the Coronavirus.
There will be a lot of changes this year for all of us, some families not together to celebrate, college kids who can’t travel home, grandparents whom everyone is trying to avoid seeing in order to keep them safe. And hopefully the changes will be enough rules respected to really make a difference and help us to get a handle on the pandemic, bring the numbers down, and not wind up with another huge spike which throws us back into confinement after the holidays.
One thing truly shocks me, is how many people are planning major trips during the holidays. Many people in Europe are planning to visit Swiss ski resorts, since the French and Italian ones aren’t open, and it is strongly recommended not to plan ski holidays. Others are escaping to warmer weather in Morocco and even in Dubai, where life more closely resembles what we knew before the pandemic. Some Europeans are going to Spain, which has lower numbers than its European neighbors. Given how we have all been urged not to travel, all around the world, I don’t understand how people can plan these trips, knowing the risks they are taking, and that the fallout from them is liable to worsen the already dangerous situation we are in. And many Americans, as well as Europeans, are not heeding the pleas not to travel, and are planning to do it anyway. It is painful to hear about those holiday plans, knowing that we will pay dearly for those trips later, just as Thanksgiving travel has created the bleak numbers we are experiencing now in the U.S. a month later. I hope that somebody plans to follow the rules and the advice not to travel. Right about now, the pandemic is seeming endless to all of us, and we are all sick and tired of the rules we have to live with, the confinements, the lack of ability to have a ‘normal’ social life, and for many of us, the chance to spend Christmas with our loved ones. Some people are making big sacrifices, while others blithely choose to ignore the rules. We can’t hide from the reality of the pandemic anywhere in the world. And the numbers of people getting infected with the virus, and the death toll are harsh wake up calls.
Four days before Christmas, many countries and cities are in full lock down, while others are in a modified version of it. We’re trying to cling to our traditions, and adjust them as best we can, or shelve them for another year. In San Francisco, one of my daughters saw a group of 25 carolers without masks, in a highly populated neighborhood, singing their hearts out, although singing is particularly said to be a dangerous spreader of the virus and is strongly discouraged. Some people just don’t want to listen.
ALL of my Christmas will be virtual this year, which makes me particularly cranky about those not following the rules. There will be no Christmas dinner with family, no chance to hug my children, no midnight mass, none of our cherished traditions. I will be alone on Christmas this year, for the first time in my entire life, because it was just too dangerous to travel to be with my family. We opted for caution and safety, and it was a very hard decision to do so. And as hard as it is, I hope that others will be reasonable this year too, at least to some degree, even if they don’t give up celebrating it completely. The more serious we are about the holidays this year, the better and safer and healthier they will be next year, and hopefully we will be able to put the pandemic behind us, all around the globe.
In the meantime, I hope that you will have special moments with family or friends, that the spirit of Christmas will shine in your hearts, that you will reach out to those who need to be remembered and may be alone this year. It is a year in which joy will take many new and different forms and creative expressions, when we need to count our blessings, respect others, and work together toward a healthy world again.
I wish you joy and peace and good health and love in the coming year, and may all your holiday wishes come true. Please be safe, as best you can, every moment and every gesture of caution counts, for all of us.
May you be blessed in every way this holiday, and may you be a blessing to others, with all my love, Danielle