Dec. 27, 2020: A Different Kind of Christmas
I am someone who absolutely adores holidays and family traditions. I mark the days each month when I will decorate for that particular season, month, or holiday. I love the predictability of traditions and routines. Of all the holidays, Christmas is the one most steeped in these family rituals. There is something so comforting about the repetition of beloved habits and beliefs.
But 2020 was definitely a different kind of Christmas.
There were so many of our family traditions that were made impossible because of the pandemic. We did not attend the Nutcracker Ballet, a tradition that started when I was a child and my parents brought my sisters and me to see it live in New York City for the first time. The tradition continued with my own daughter and now her daughter. This year, we did not get to dress up, go out to lunch, and then attend the ballet.
We did not attend the Festival of the Trees, where Ellie could visit Santa and make crafts while we enjoyed the spectacularly decorated trees. There was no Light Up UCF, where we drank hot cocoa and rode the Ferris wheel, and this year there was no Winter Festival with face painting and snowball fights.
Jeff and I love to entertain year round, but Christmas time is when we pull out all the stops and host great gatherings. Typically, between Thanksgiving and the New Year, we will host one or two huge parties of 50-75 people, and then a couple smaller parties of family and friends. This year, the house was decked out in her finery for a much, much smaller audience.
Since becoming grandparents over 8 years ago, we have also become part of our daughter’s family’s traditions. We often sleep over at their house on Christmas Eve so we can be there first thing in the morning to watch our granddaughters open their presents. Then we would hang out for the day, while she hosted both sides of the family for dinner. 20-25 people popping in and out all afternoon, while we all exchanged gifts and enjoyed each other’s company. This year, there was none of that.
We did get to see some of our loved ones. In smaller gatherings spread out over a longer period of time. And for that I am grateful. For I know that there are families who have given up so much more than traditions and rituals. They have loved ones missing who will never come back. As I write this, the death toll from Covid19 in America is now over 332,000. Let that number sink in. Each of those souls left behind friends and family who are experiencing the first Christmas season without their loved one. That is a very painful place to be. It is heart wrenching to think of the loss to these families, communities, and our nation. And for many of these families, they must grieve in isolation.
Sending virtual hugs to everyone celebrating a different kind of Christmas this year.