This Christmas

As I write this, it’s 7:00 a.m. on Christmas morning, and I’ve been awake for hours. The stockings are filled, there’s fresh snow on the ground, and I’ve already had a few cups of coffee. I’m trying to be quiet, but not too quiet because I want my husband to get up. Did I mention it’s Christmas morning and I’m a three-year-old disguised as an adult? #presents

I don’t have to tell you that Christmas is atypical this year. Many of my Christmas-celebrating friends have understandably been mourning the gatherings and traditions that COVID-19 has put on pause, and I’ve had my moments too. 2020 has been hard, and it’s easy to give the inability to spend Christmas with all my loved ones symbolic weight it doesn’t warrant.

I was able, though, to begin adjusting my expectations and preparing to have the best Christmas possible within the parameters imposed by COVID-19 relatively early, probably because I spent last Christmas in the hospital so ill with a virus that I could only visit with my husband and in-laws, who were here from the States, very briefly. This one was bound to be pretty stellar by comparison. Sure, it would be nice to have a redo—to fly to NC or BC, to see everyone I couldn’t in 2019. My husband and I are finding ways, however, to connect with friends and family in meaningful, fulfilling, and satisfying ways. Best of all, I’m home, with my husband, in a space that’s comfortable and familiar to me. We have special meals and activities planned for over the holidays, are trying new things together, are establishing what might become new traditions, and will have plenty of downtime.

And sitting here waiting for my husband to finally get out of bed has made perfectly clear that in our house, at least, the pandemic hasn’t managed to steal what I’ve felt every year—the hospital one aside—for as long as I can remember: the cozy, magical, impatient anticipation of the early hours of Christmas morning.

Merry Christmas, to those of you for whom it’s a special day. I hope that you find moments of joy and are gentle with yourself if you don’t.

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