As I ride into the holiday season on a wave of grief and fear, mixed with a dash of hope, I have just one simple request: I’d like to see my grandkids open their presents. Five of them live in different parts of the country and we’ll do a zoom party of some sort and that will be fun. But I have one little guy who lives right here in New Mexico and I expected – at one time in the hazy past, back at the beginning of the year – that I would celebrate in person with him. As we always do.
But this year that won’t be possible unless we take some extraordinary measures. Like shivering outside in December. Or bringing heaters into the garage and keeping the door open. Now, granted, this is New Mexico and it rarely gets super cold during the day. But it could easily be too cold to enjoy unwrapping packages outside, let alone eating a meal. So it will probably have to be Zoom or Facetime with him, too. And here he is, seven years old and close enough to touch. Almost.
Still, I know I am lucky. For one thing, we have been able to spend many months together turning the playset in the backyard into a water slide, eating pre-wrapped snacks, playing board games with gloves on. And lucky in an even more important way. We are all well. In fact, though some people who are dear to me have tested positive or even fought a bout with Covid, everyone has survived and is thriving. And I hope that will remain the case for all my friends and family and neighbors. I wish it could be so for everyone. And some day, I know, it will.
But for now we have to get through the next few months with our health and sanity intact. I don’t mean to preach. I wouldn’t be any good at it anyway. So all I’ll say is be brave. Be careful. This is a season of candles and lights and lamps in all the different traditions of celebration. This year especially, it’s a time for reflection and thinking about what we might want to change or improve in our lives in the new year. The pandemic has provided us with a lot to think about. I hope to take advantage of this time to do some thinking. I hope we all do. Happy Holidays, however you celebrate!!
Norma Libman is a journalist and lecturer who has been collecting women’s stories for more than twenty years. You can read the first chapter of her award-winning book, Lonely River Village, at NormaLibman.com.