Our Pandemic Christmas
today at 9:12 am
“Dashing through the snow on a one horse open sleigh, o’er the fields we go, laughing all the way”…..I think not. Not this year when everything in the world changed in the blink of a Covid eye.
One minute, we’re planning family gatherings, figuring out seating, who will sit at the kids’ table and the next thing you know, we’re all Zooming in to “celebrate” on computer screens. I feel just awful for the young kids who need the wise counsel of grandparents yet can’t be around them now. I feel sorry for kids who will miss out on a large chunk of growing up surrounded by family (and friends).
I find myself decorating for Christmas almost manically, trying to create much needed joy that is at a premium now. I know store shelves were shopped clean of all holiday decor long before the usual time. On social media, my friends are busily sharing photos of their trees, holiday cookies, DIY Christmas ideas and so much more. Hell, we even attempted building a gingerbread house for the first time but it looked like a tornado hit it before I could even ice the roof.
Granted, it’s been a tough year for everyone but, for us, we lost a dog, family members, I lost a job, Chuck lost his two best friends and had a TIA (mini-stroke). I think I’m entitled to decorate as much as I want to try to fill this void (that I think we’re all feeling now).
And frankly, it IS helping. Nothing makes me happier than twinkling Christmas tree lights. It reminds me of all the GOOD years in the past when all of our family was together, giving gifts and thanks for our good health and the fact that we were still here.
You could still find Santa in all the department stores, which were decorated to the nines. I’m happy to see that retail, despite all its setbacks, is still trying to be festive. Macy’s, although certainly not close to the old Marshall Field’s in holiday decor, still has cheerful windows and the Great Tree in the Walnut Room. And, although families can’t carry on life-long traditions of dining there during the season, they can still order carry-out–the famous Mrs. Hering’s Chicken Pot Pie, lobster bisque, Frango Mint Chocolate Ice Cream Pie and more.
For Chuck and me, we’re still trying to carry on family traditions. We’ll bake my mom’s ham (Cooks only please) and maybe I’ll fix Mama Mary Johnson’s famous sweet potato pie (whose recipe was featured in Ann Gerber’s book, “Chicago’s Sweet Tooth.”)
The ornaments on the tree all have a story too and I make Chuck go through them with me every year. My oldest ornament dates from when I was in the 2nd grade. My teacher Edna Faulkner knit a little Santa for me as a Christmas gift. (I was her favorite, of course)
We will toast to the loved ones we’ve lost and pray for a better future, one that will bring back the human element and social interaction that is necessary to the survival of a species. We can’t drift apart. We need “parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting and caroling out in the snow,” now more than ever.