This has been a rough week for me. My daughters' friend tested positive for COVID. My daughters are in quarantine (they just got their second shot) and tested negative on a rapid test after a positive result on a home test. (I guess the PCR will tell the tale in a couple of days.) My parents canceled their trip out to see us due to rising infections. One of my daughters asked us today if we will be in "COVID times" forever.
Back in January, when I got my first shot, I felt pretty confident it wouldn't be like this. Oh how wrong I was.
Last year I probably went a little too over the top with Christmas. We showered our daughters with gifts and drank and ate to our heart's content. It was a needed kernel of hope after months of death and fear. This year my thwarted expectations have left me feeling much less Christmas cheer. Due to quarantine it will be just us at home this year (with some time with my wife's family two days late.)
It feels especially cruel because hope is the essence of Christmas. People talk about "keeping Christ in Christmas," and for me, lapsed Catholic that I am, this means the belief that this broken world can somehow be redeemed. After all that's why the shepherds rejoiced and the three kings followed the star to Bethlehem. It's the thing I am clinging too in my heart when my mind tells me the recent escalation of cases is a sign that we are in for another punishing winter of discontent.
So I search for ways to find rays of hope. I'm planning on making Christmas cookies with kids, trying to repeat my mother's alchemy. I will try as hard as I can not to think of how she was supposed to be here this year, passing on her secrets to my daughters. We will watch our favorite Christmas movies together, and are working on a family play adapting A Christmas Carol. (I am told I get to play Scrooge!) I will remind myself that as horrible as COVID has been, it has given me so much more time with my children than I otherwise would have had. I truly cherish that time.
After all, Christmas is a yearly reminder of where we are at in life. You can't celebrate it without thinking about Christmases past, and where you are in relation to them. As trying and difficult as these past two years have been, they have forced me to take stock of what truly matters in life. We only have so much time and only so many Christmases. Despite my sadness and fear this Christmas season I just need to remind myself that it's a time to be cherished for what it brings that I never get to have in other parts of the year. I hope you and yours find some scraps of hope this holiday season.
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