I was an army brat for the first twelve years of my life. That meant living far away from extended family. Mostly, our Christmases were quiet and included just the five of us. It’s pretty much all I knew, but it was always nice because our parents made Christmas special for us.
The very few Christmases we were able to spend with extended family were great. My memories of those years are filled with midnight mass and decorating my grandparents tree on Christmas Eve, while classical Christmas standards filled the air.
In my fifty-four years I have not missed a Christmas. I did have a kidney stone once a few days before the big day, but I rallied and was able to join in the festivities.
Then along came the pandemic. Covid-19 came upon us, sunk its rotten teeth into our flesh, and hung on for dear life. Here we are nearly two years later and still feeling its effects.
When it first hit, we were all fairly certain it would be cleared out within a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Memorial Day parades and BBQs were cancelled. Fourth of July fireworks were not set off. Thanksgiving dinner was spent with whoever lived under your roof with you at the time. Christmas and New Year’s were FaceTime sessions with friends and family.
As much as it sucked, we accepted it. Although I was disappointed we couldn’t spend Christmas with any family, it was what it was. The entire world was in the same boat.
2021 was a new year and filled with promise. We had the vaccine. People were joyous. Senior citizens were brought to tears at the prospect of seeing family for the first time in a year. Life would get back to normal.
And “normal” it became. As normal as it could get with the new accessory called a “mask” and with elbow bumping replacing hugs. Yet, birthday parties were planned, Memorial Day picnics commenced, Thanksgiving was spent with all the family and friends you could fit into your dining room.
Christmas Eve and Day plans were set back into motion. Invitations were sent out. Christmas was in the air. The Spirit of the season returned.
Things were going as planned. And then it happened.
Pretty much everyone in our over-sized family was exposed in some way to Covid. Omicron decided Christmas wouldn’t happen after all. To make things worse, a stomach bug struck those who weren’t exposed to the new variant.
The realization that this Christmas would be a repeat of last year hit. And it hit hard.
It wasn’t just our family, I know this was happening everywhere. But somehow, this time it hurt. I woke up Christmas morning with my poor, sick husband in the other room, trying to convince myself it was just another Saturday. I decided I was going to continue my pity party from the night before with spiked eggnog and leftover holiday cookies.
Then I started thinking about our wonderful “Fakemas” we were fortunate to celebrate just this past Tuesday (if you missed my Family Christmas letter, click here) and how wonderful it was.
We had Christmas. We had a fabulous Christmas. It was just celebrated a little early. Some don’t even have that. Some are ill, others maybe don’t have family, some perhaps suffered a great loss, or other circumstances that didn’t allow them to celebrate in the usual way.
Instead I turned my disappointment into gratefulness. I put on my big girl pants with the elastic waistband and poured more eggnog. Except this time I drank to gratitude.
Did I miss my extended family? Yes, I did. Am I still sad? A little. But it’s ok. There is always next year.