When the first known case of Covid-19 was diagnosed in the United States on January 20, 2020, it was hard to imagine the toll it would take on every aspect of our lives. While the medical community, and especially the infectious disease experts, tried to warn of the dangers that lay ahead if we didn’t take necessary precautions, many believed those experts were “crying wolf”. Because many Americans didn’t (and many still don’t) believe that Covid is any more dangerous than a seasonal flu, they refused to adopt the necessary safeguards to protect themselves or others. Some even believe that it was a conspiracy theory concocted to somehow control the population and limit our freedoms. Large numbers refuse to wear masks in public and continue to gather in large groups without regard for their own safety or the safety of others. Sadly, our President and many of his supporters encourage these dangerous practices. Now nearly a year later we have learned that the disease control experts were right. As of today more than 15,000,000 Americans have been diagnosed with the virus and nearly 290,000 have died. This will be a very different Christmas.
That being said, Christmas presents us with a chance to find some holiday cheer and to discover new and different ways to celebrate the season. While we are rightly discouraged from traveling to celebrate with family and friends, there are countless ways that we can still “connect”. Photo Christmas cards and letters (hand written or typed out on the computer) bring a little joy each day as we anticipate the arrival of the letter carrier to see who has taken the time to keep in touch. We have been sending out photo Christmas cards since the year we were married 37 years ago (often with letters, either hand-written or typed out on the computer). On Christmas Day we will call close relatives to wish them well and catch up with what’s going on in their lives and ours. Zoom, FaceTime , Skype, Google Hangout and other social networks let us see, as well as talk to, the friends and family that may be isolated during the pandemic. We can drop off gifts on friend’s and family’s porches or send them via the Post Office, FedEx or UPS. Holiday parties, concerts, plays, and even church services have transitioned from in-person events to on-line events. While it isn’t quite the same as the live performances that we are used to, they can still provide opportunities for new ways to celebrate the season.
When we lived in Southern California, live Christmas wreaths were not ubiquitous (mostly because the warm, dry winter weather out west) like they are here. In Maine, a house is more likely to have a fresh wreath or two (or more) on their house beginning just after Thanksgiving and remaining there until spring. I was fortunate to have made a friend who, for the past several years, has invited me over to her house to build 2-3 decorated wreaths made from pine and cedar harvested from the woods on their property. They always help to create holiday cheer and we look forward to our get togethers. The guys would bring in the greenery and she and I would work together to create the wreaths while we sip beer or wine and catch up with our lives. This year, we had to do things a little differently. Jill made the basic wreaths, we picked them up from her house and brought them home so I could add the decorations and the traditional bow. Just another way to make this most unusual season seem a little more joyful. And who wouldn’t want to do as much of that as possible. Merry Christmas!