I recently heard a political diatribe claiming that some political leaders were trying to cancel Christmas. And it ticked me off because Christmas isn't something you cancel. It can't be canceled -- for those who celebrate the holiday, it is there every year in December. It's not crossed off the calendar because of weather or tragedy or pandemic. It is Christmas. It is there. We may not be able to gather as usual and celebrations may change, but not Christmas.
One of the first Christmas cards I received was from my artist friend, Jane. On the back of the card she had created, she wrote, "Christmas isn't canceled. It is re-imagined."
It seems I have read or heard two different takes on the holidays. One is: "No one is coming to my house. I'm not going to decorate or bake much, I'm really cutting back."
The other is: "We Need a Little Christmas, right this very minute!" to borrow some song lyrics from "Mame."
That's my philosophy and the reason why there's always time for another tree, another treat, the Christmas dishes, something special.
That, and the fact that if this were to be my last Christmas on Earth, I desperately need lights and color this year, along with giving and music, sparkles everywhere!
Re-imagining Family Gatherings: We didn't plan to celebrate Christmas without the Toddlers and company, or without good friends but this year it's a must. So we are trying to reimagine ways that we can still celebrate. Maybe on Facetime, like so many of you. Maybe with a short gathering outside while (if) they are enroute elsewhere. Maybe we'll wait a month or two till virus rates ease up in our state and have a belated Christmas. (After it became difficult for my dad to travel and my Cleveland cousins had families too large to travel north, we would meet halfway in Toledo sometime in February, get a big room and celebrate. It's the people. Not the day.)
Zoom events are one way of reimagining Christmas. And we're getting pretty good at those. I have a wonderful group of friends who met last week online to share their upcoming Christmas plans and toast the season. You've probably done that, too.
We have friends whose family holiday celebration always includes a traditional Polish soup recipe -- a must have! And a hearty bourbon punch. This year they are making the soup and leaving it at the doorsteps of those who would be at the gathering. Then they'll zoom as they all share soup. They are also leaving behind a kit for their traditional "bourbon punch," so that tradition can continue.
Re-imagine giving: Not having parties to plan means that maybe we have a little more time to reimagine some of the things we might like to do at the holidays. Give baked goods to a neighbor you've never shared with before, or a Secret Santa surprise to someone -- even a stranger.
With a couple of friends, we are taking a break from presents this year and instead planning a long call or a Zoom. In all honesty, I would much rather have the gift of time, someday a long lunch out or extra nice dinner out instead of presents. "Stuff" I have. Time together is precious.
Make a gift to your community, through donations to a food bank drive or another charity. Or, hang ornaments at an arboretum or a walking route, a gift of beauty to fellow walkers.
Re-imagining Christmas Eve Church: If you are missing the services at church on Christmas Eve, plan a quiet time at home where you can read your favorite passages and sing or listen to carols. Share the readings with each other. Share your Christmas prayers. Remember -- it isn't the pew in which your body sits that makes worship happen; it's the place where your heart sits.
Re-Imagining the Parties: For 20 years, we've celebrated holidays with our friends Mark and Jan using our Christmas song theme. This year it will either be by Zoom or in their barn with air blowing through. Neither of us are shopping but we'll find a way to incorporate our song theme -- maybe with food, maybe with trivia, but with fun. And hopefully in person. Apart but together.
My physically vulnerable cousin and her husband built a Covid room in her basement, subdividing it with tightly drawn, floor-to-ceiling clear plastic sheets so that as winter drew near, they could be inside with their kids and grandchild (who have their own entrance), even if separated by a "wall." They will be able to "see" each other in a safe way -- and stay warm, too. Is it eating at the same table or gathering closer together? No, she can't hold her beloved toddler. But they can "touch hands" on the plastic, he can come close to show her things, without concern. Reimagined.
Re-imagining the Decor: Although I'm not sure anyone else could tell, I've reimagined some of my decorating. Given that this hasn't been my best holiday health-wise, getting trees up was an effort. Most had their lights on already, so that was easy. But time is running out and I didn't have "the right" decorations on one of the trees.
But I had an overload of decorations on the big one. So, I pulled some of the red ones and on they went to the (formerly) "White tree." It's festive, cheery and different. And I put the tree in a different spot, too. You see, I can adapt!
Another tree, the Snowman tree, hadn't been up for four or five years. Hello, Snowfolk! You might even stay after Christmas!
As you saw in THIS post, the Wall Tree with the Shiny Brites and Christopher Radko ornaments didn't make it this year either. So that Radkos got a new spot to sparkle!
Re-imagining the tree: Rick opted to not get a big tree this year, since we wouldn't be seeing the kids and also because the Y lot, which we support each year, was closed and we didn't want to go to Home Depot or Lowes for a tree. I had trees in the basement to spare. And now he has a mini-forest with almost all of the ornaments from his big tree (and all of the favorites!)
(And yes, there is a Christmas tree shortage in America -- people are buying them early and they are getting harder to come by. And not just here in the U.S. but in Canada, too.)
Don't think for a minute I don't know how hard it is to see family traditions that may go back decades take a break. Or how hard it will be for many of us not to celebrate with family and friends. I do. Not seeing the Toddlers will be a bit heart wrenching and it will be sad to not sit in a candlelit church on Christmas Eve as a choir proceeds down the aisle to the strains of "O Come All Year Faithful." I can only imagine the anguish of those who can't visit parents or family members in care facilities.
I also know that for some, this Christmas will be without family members because they have left this Earth, leaving an indelible imprint of holidays past and present. Their lives need to be celebrated for I do believe that in one way or another, they are still at your table.
Others are dealing with illness and caregiving, whether home or in the hospital. I think daily of our blogger friend Lynne, whose husband was in a terrible car accident a week ago, who was hanging on to life by a thread (and is now slowly improving, though the road will be long). And Susie, whose Ted was just released from the hospital after a scary time with pneumonia. There are others, too. It's a tough, tough year.
But that is this year. My Christmas wish is that in reimagining Christmas in 2020, we will have Christmases for many years to come, revisiting the people and traditions we so love.
(A collection of all Christmas 2020 posts is here, in case you missed something during this busy season!)