A Day Like Most Others

If it weren’t for the fact it was December 25th, the morning would be like most others this year: Home. Distanced. Alone. But, because it is not just another morning in 2020 but Christmas morning, I selected the “fireplace app” to play on the TV instead of the morning news program, and holiday music on the Mp3. I sat quietly with just the lights of my tree illuminating the room, drinking coffee laced with eggnog. When the time came, I packed up gifts and my annual offering of holiday cookies, then dressed in my Christmas sweater, poinsettia earrings, Santa Hat, and headed out to my sister’s.

As I neared her home, a sensation of feeling strangely normal came over me. It was a happy feeling, but just as a smile spread across my face, my throat tightened, and before I could take a deep breath, the tears exploded. Overwhelmed, and astonished by the rush of emotion, I pulled over to calm down.

I am proud how I’ve faced the challenge of the past year. But, as I tried to regain my composure, absently watching the traffic go by, I realized had not taken a single moment to acknowledge the anger and grief at being a hostage of this damned pandemic. Isolation and wariness of the physical proximity of others made doing something precedent, like going to my sister’s for Christmas, seem as though I was finally getting to embrace a long lost sweetheart.

I wiped my eyes and got back on the road. Once arrived at my sister’s, the absurd reality of this year came back into view and the memories of years past retreated into the outer edges of my mind.

Everyone was gathered in the front yard, well distanced from each other and masked. No one was allowed in the house, except its inhabitants. Each of us was given instruction how to access the bathroom, if needed, which was to walk around the side of the house to the back and use the powder room in the den downstairs (and to remember to leave the window in there open for ventilation). We left our gifts for each other on a folding table my brother-in-law centered in the middle of the yard. On another table in the driveway was a crockpot of piping hot chili (a significant downgrade from their usual huge and varied spread). We took turns opening our gifts while the rest of us ate our chili, remarking how glad we were for hot bowl of food against the near freezing temps.

As odd and awkward as the gathering was, it nevertheless had a festive vibe. People made jokes, shared stories and generally got caught up, just as we would typically do. Someone streamed a basketball game on their tablet, figuring out how to prop it up on the roof of their car in order for others to see. Everyone’s dogs romped and barked, giddy to be at their kind of party (outside, room to run without commandments to “sit!” or “lie down!” or the admonishment, “no! bad dog!”) A couple of the guys kicked a soccer ball back and forth in the street. Neighbors out for a walk stopped to say hello.

The cold eventually got to be too much. As a result, we agreed it was time to part, with a promise for a Zoom to be set up the following day to wish a Merry Christmas to the others not able to attend. I looked at my watch. I’d been there just under an hour. Shortest Christmas gathering, ever.

Back home, I did my best to keep the holiday spirit going. A nice nap on the couch while listening to holiday tunes, a little bit of reading, a couple of episodes of a favorite TV show while I ate dinner. Christmas night, in the hour or so just before bed, always felt something of a cross between an anticlimactic conclusion to a big production and a melancholy end to time well spent. This Christmas night was neither. It was just the end of another day, like the end to all the other days this year.

8 thoughts on “A Day Like Most Others

  1. We’ve been porch swapping our December gifts… I’ve got more cookies than I know what to do with. Well I know I can share them. 😀

    Our ‘gatherings’ have been limited to just the folks we knew were ‘clear’ and the small ‘pod’ we’ve been holding court with all year (depending on the day it’s take out here or there or a cooked meal) so most of our weekend evenings are full, as after the meal we play games to pass the time.

    Our New Years meal will be dropped off by the family that usually hosts. Because they want us to participate in their traditions. We’ll see them in our driveway for the first time since March.

    We’ve got to learn to zoom! But some relatives won’t or can’t. So only phone calls connect us. And that’s hard especially when time zones or failing memories are involved.

    Here’s hoping the Vaccine gets to all and we can soon once again eat in restaurants (that haven’t folded) or go to a real movie theater. I have even been sticking to my shopping list and not lingering in the grocery store.

    We do have some modern things to be thankful for – our net friends, those who visit us and those who provide prompts for our imaginations to run a muck.

    Thank You for being, sharing, and caring. Stay safe and sane and keep positive for 2021!! ~ Jules

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did not end up with a pod, or germ circle, as one friend puts it. During the spring and summer, that was not such a big deal as we could be outside for hours. Since Oct, I wish I had a pod. Too many in my life are in one vulnerable category or another for them to allow anyone other than their household around them, while others work in essential service jobs that routinely expose them to public.
      The other day I heard an interview with residents of a long-term care facility, and one woman said, when asked what the first thing she wants to do when it’s OK, she wants a hug from the first person she sees and then wants to hug everyone she encounters. Made me tear up!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. We spent our Christmas day huddled inside. My littlest grandson (3 and a half YO) got a trampoline and we set it up in the great room. We all warmed our hands on coffee cups and watched him jump and laugh.
    That night we had steamboat for dinner. We laughed, told jokes and stories as the food bubbled and cooked in the centre of the table.
    It was good.
    I’m grateful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds cozy and quiet! Several friends and family remarked their day was similar.
      Steamboat? From the description, it sounds like a fondue pot? Our family always has fondue pot out with bread, apple, cauliflower, sausage through the morning. Kinda like a grazing brunch. I made it for myself this year and will have leftover fondue for the whole week!

      Like

      1. Steamboat is a Chinese style fondue where you cook raw meat, fish and vegetables in a boiling broth at the table. At the end of the meal, the broth is poured over rice to make a wonderful soup to top off the wonderful meal.

        Liked by 1 person

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