2020 holiday season sure looks different. Much like the March-October feeling of days/weeks/months blending into one loooooooong day, we find our holidays are doing something similar.
Our son is under quarantine as he awaits the results of a COVID test. Our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren live out of state. Our sisters all live in different states and our nieces, nephews, and cousins are scattered across the country. Therefore, our family has agreed to put our traditional holiday celebrations on hold.
It’s interesting. Without the time pressure, without the search and seizure of just the right gift, without the large family gatherings, there is a very different feel to this holiday season. Rather than being driven by expectations (mostly my own), we find ourselves free to focus on what truly matters. After all, the reason we gather together is that we love one another. Our lives are intertwined and coming together during the holidays is an opportunity to celebrate life, love, and laughter.
Life, Love and Laughter
So how should we celebrate the holidays without a family gathering? Let’s start by celebrating life. We lost one family member due to the combination of serious health issues and COVID. She was able to pass without any suffering and for that, we are incredibly thankful. The remainder of the family is staying healthy. Even though our son is sick, his symptoms are relatively mild – another reason to be thankful. Life is precious. Let’s celebrate life.
Then there is love. We love our friends and family – including the crazies. I mean, they are our own crazy folks, right? What better way to demonstrate your love than to say, “Let’s postpone gathering this year. There will be no required appearances. No travel needed. No guilt allowed.” We set our family free by promising that we will celebrate the season – just not as COVID cases continue to spike. Maybe in 2020, love is saying, “Let’s push pause on our traditional celebration.” Let’s choose love.
With the seriousness ushered into our lives by COVID-19, it has been difficult at times to laugh. For a while, it seemed inappropriate. But it’s necessary. “Laughter is the best medicine” and we need to exercise our ability to laugh. Having had the purchase of an RV on our minds, we have laughed ourselves silly watching “The Long, Long Trailer”, “RV”, and soon we will watch our seasonal favorite, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”. Laughter brings a lightness to the heart. Laughter is cleansing. Laughter is contagious and 100% safe for the consumer. Let’s give ourselves permission to laugh and to laugh long and strong.
When our grandson was about three he proclaimed, “Mimi, you silly”. I’ll own that. I just like to play. I enjoy celebrations and the level of chaos that comes with it. I enjoy creating an atmosphere. I could have set up the tree like I always do. I could wrap gifts in Christmas paper. But in 2020, that all seems a little “less than”. If we had small children in the house, it would be different. But we don’t so I’m finding my enthusiastic Enneagram 7 coming out. Can’t “do” Christmas? Ok, fine. we will come up with a fun alternative.
I’ve got some ideas about how to reframe the annual season of gift-giving, tree-decorating, and cookie/pie/cake baking. It’s likely that January may still be too soon to safely gather, so I’m thinking Valentine’s Day. Seems like a perfect day to celebrate life, love, and laughter. I’m envisioning a Valentine’s Day (Christmas) tree decorated with vintage Valentine cards, construction paper chain garlands, and conversation heart inspired ornaments. (Christmas) Gifts wrapped in red, pink, and white paper go under the tree. Christmas tree-shaped cookies become heart-shaped Valentine’s cookies. My traditional Southern layered coconut cake with lemon curd filling becomes a Red Velvet cake – that would be a lovely Valentine cake.
Until we arrive at our alternative Christmas celebration, I’m enjoying another side benefit of this non-gathering-holiday-season. It is giving us emotional space that is typically filled with the retail-driven hustle and bustle. It gives us, instead, the emotional space to slow down and pay attention to the true meaning of the season. Not sure there could be a better reminder of that than the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn. No one knows for certain whether these two planets will appear as one star (like the Christmas star) or as two planets but that little detail doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is that the conjunction of these planets will be the closest since 1623 and the closest observable since 1226! And we are being given a gift to close out 2020 with something other-worldly and truly amazing.
2020 has been difficult for all of us. The degree of difficulty varies, but none of us has remained unaffected. And yet I find it a wonderfully reassuring reminder that He who controls the heavens and the earth knew we just might be needing a “focus-redirect” about now. So let’s gaze at the sky, watch for the alignment of these planets, and expect a better year to come than the one we just weathered.
Yes, 2020 has been difficult and our holidays are different. However, let’s choose to celebrate what we have rather than giving in to sadness about what we are missing. Let’s be thankful for every blessing – no matter how small. Let’s choose to look ahead, hope for a better future, and believe the best about people. Let’s celebrate life (it is a vapor), love (no greater gift), and laughter (the very best medicine).