Welcome to Corona Christmas 2.0. If you’d asked me a year ago whether our world would have returned to some semblance of normal for Christmas 2021, I would have said “yes.” I mean, who among us thought that with Christmas looming just ahead, we’d still be monitoring the daily “numbers,” wearing our masks whenever we’re indoors — except when actively stuffing our gullet with dearly missed restaurant meals — and worrying about the particularly stubborn Delta variant? Yet here we are! I now even have my booster shot for those of us who were given a double dose of AstraZeneca the first time around. Yet, even with more than 80% of Ontarians double vaxxed, we’re still in it. We are not yet free and clear.
Last year at this time I wrote about how different our first pandemic holiday season promised to be. And it was. No large family gatherings. No parties. No caroling. No communal punch bowl of eggnog. Okay, we still had turkey, and quite a lot of it, I must say. But we were all pretty much on our own, sequestered in our homes. I wrote back then that while unfortunate not to be with our extended families, we should all look on the bright side and embrace the slower-paced, less frenetic version of Christmas, for the good of us all.
In hindsight, I think we were actually doing more than protecting ourselves, our family and friends from the Covid threat. I think we were also practising enlightened self-interest from a different perspective. Last year, we had a very rare Christmas opportunity to just relax a little bit. Settle in with a stack of books or a Netflix account for a couple of weeks of rest and restoration. How often has that happened in our lifetimes? Say, never? I truly believe that removing the traditional Christmas frenzy and stress was very therapeutic for us all and likely put us in a much stronger position to weather the pandemic’s third wave that hit last spring.
So, with Christmas just round the corner, here we are with three waves already behind us. Unfortunately, the fourth wave is still strong enough for surfing, so we’re not quite ready to crack open the champagne. We’ve come such a long way. Let’s not blow it now!
Despite how tempting it is to turn back the clock and embark on a traditional pre-Covid Christmas, let’s hang on a bit longer and just once more (please let it just be once more) embrace a more relaxed, less chaotic, and above all, safer approach to the holiday season. And on a positive note, you can enjoy with no guilt. No need to feel bad about not doing more this season. No need to brave 12 different malls in search of the hottest new toy. No need to have 85 friends and neighbours over for a holiday open house that takes three weeks to plan and two weeks to clean up. No need to pack the family in the car and drive three hours to visit distant relatives. No need and no guilt.
Like last year, welcome this precious and rare chance to slow down again and cocoon with your own family in your own home. We need to recharge our batteries and prepare for the final effort to put this fourth wave behind us. Trust me, at some point in the future, when we’re immersed again in the seasonal consumer feeding frenzy, when none of us has a spare moment to reflect on anything but getting to the next party, finding that elusive last gift, or yet again sweeping up dead needles shed by the Christmas tree, we may look back upon our two calmer Corona Christmases (please let there only be two) with something akin to wistful warmth and fondness. And to all a good night.
A two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, Terry Fallis grew up in Leaside and is the award-winning writer of eight national bestsellers, all published by McClelland & Stewart. His most recent, Operation Angus, is now in bookstores.