Even though we’re well into November as I write these words, I’m still working through all the Halloween candy we did not distribute this year courtesy of pandemic restrictions on trick or treating. I just didn’t think so much nutritious food should go to waste. Yes, I know, a noble sacrifice, but hey, I try to do my part. My motto for the last couple of weeks has been “No Oh Henry left behind!”
You’ll also know that about 20 minutes after Halloween ends, the Christmas season launches in all of its holly jolly glory. In the stores, it’s out with the orange and black and in with the red and green. On the radio, The Monster Mash and Ghostbusters are overtaken by Jingle Bell Rock and Springsteen’s rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. The speed of the seasonal transition is breathtaking, and if you’re unprepared, can cause whiplash in supermarket aisles.
But as it was for Halloween, the holiday season will be different this year. Let’s face it, everything is different this year. With the possible exceptions of Thanksgiving and Easter, nothing gathers families together like those special December holidays, be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or others. In fact, some families who don’t all live in the same area are only able to get together once or twice a year. From that perspective, our Corona Christmas throws a wrench into our traditional seasonal customs. There likely won’t be, and shouldn’t be, our typical annual family gatherings this year. If there are, we’ll probably be spreading more than goodwill, comfort and joy. And we don’t need that right now.
So, in the spirit of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” let’s not be brought down by all the negatives associated with our upcoming Corona Christmas. Let’s try to look on the bright side, even if it won’t take long.
For most families, that stretch from November to New Year’s is often an exhausting sprint that taxes our physical, emotional, and financial resources to the limit, all accompanied by Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You on an endless loop. There are parties to attend and organize, gifts to research, buy, and wrap, Christmas cookies to bake, burn, and bake again, trees to erect and decorate, stockings to hang by the chimney with care, snow tires to install, turkeys to purchase, carols to sing, eggnog to drink (and sometimes to spike and then drink)….and the endless list goes on and on, as endless lists do. For some, while of course it’s fun and all, Christmas can become something to survive rather than enjoy.
For our family, we usually have an annual Open House attended by upwards of one hundred friends and colleagues. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a blast, but it doesn’t organize itself. Then on Christmas Eve, almost every member of our Toronto-based family rehearses for and then participates in the three o’clock and 5 o’clock performances of the Christmas Pageant at Timothy Eaton Church. We’ve been doing it, and loving it, for nearly 30 years. But not this year.
No, this year will be different. So, let’s accept it and to the extent possible, embrace the change of pace the pandemic imposes. Perhaps it’ll allow us the luxury of recharging our batteries and actually reflecting on what the season really means regardless of which holiday you’re observing. Our new goal should be to make it to the new year, refreshed, rested, healthy, and having spent as much time as we safely can with our families. Yes, it won’t be the same, but it’s how it must be for this year. Don’t worry. I’m hoping next year I’ll be reprising my traditional role as a Lead Centurion in the Christmas Pageant when it’s safe to don my tunic, sandals, and sword again.
Until then, happy holidays, all, and stay safe. (I bet you thought I was going to write about Donald Trump, didn’t you?)