Of course Christmas 2020 is a strange one. There has been nothing about this year – especially since March – that has any semblance of normal. Even if you don’t agree on what “normal” is, we all agree it’s NOT 2020.
The coronavirus has taken us all on a roller-coaster ride for 10 months. The fact that the coaster has come completely off the track and is flying out of control in December isn’t even surprising.
Several of my friends have been with me on this December roller-coaster. There were emotions of pure joy as loved ones who are no longer tied to a physical desk found they could work and also travel home for Christmas. Then the virus numbers spiked, and it was time for a re-evaluation.
Others planned to travel short distances themselves to spend time with extended family only to have those who were traveling or someone in the homes they were traveling to develop a cold, cough, fever or ache and test positive for COVID-19.
After a few bumps, my personal situation has landed on good, but my heart has hurt for those who saw hopes and plans dashed by a virus test, a doctor’s caution or a rise in numbers that caused plans to change.
The irony is that we all need to feel the arms of our loved ones wrapped around us in December 2020. We have learned the ache of separation, the frustration at not being able to do what we want to do and the vexation of being denied even the simple pleasures of what we considered a very ordinary, sometimes mundane, life.
“We need a little Christmas, right this very minute. We need a little Christmas now.”
I found some words of wisdom from an extremely unlikely place: Kitchen Table Talk from Christmas week, 2018.
In the column, I was telling you, dear readers, about my childhood family Christmas Eve and Christmas Day traditions and how they have morphed over the years to accommodate changing lives and lifestyles. And then I wrote this:
“Christmas has never been about a date. It’s always been about family and friends and the love that fills my heart when I can share time with them.”
Yes, it would be nice if that time could be in December. But if that is not meant to be for you and your loved ones, just hang in there. There’s a new year coming. Sometimes being apart from people makes you realize just how important they are in your life. That is a sentiment and feeling we can hold tight to that will enrich our lives in the future.
Be happy this week. Celebrate God’s love and our ability to love each other so much that being apart makes a difference. And hope, pray and have faith that brighter Christmases are ahead.
Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons.