I don’t know about you, but I was seriously hoping that Covid-19 would be on the downswing by the time the holiday season rolled in. But with cases still surging, it sure doesn’t look that way.
It’s the time of year when we traditionally gather with friends and loved ones to celebrate all the blessings of our lives. And while many of us have a lot to be grateful for, there are many among us grappling with exhaustion, trauma, loss of life, loss of livelihood and loss of life as we knew it.
There will be no traditional anything this year.
As the season of light still has the power to brighten our days, we will have had 10 long months of social distanced or drive-by birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and graduations. We have sacrificed for the greater good. We wear masks. We stay away from people. We still do not kiss or hug hello. If I am asked to one more virtual Happy Hour I may cry.
So what to do this holiday season? I have read about 15 articles on how to safely celebrate the holidays together during this pandemic. Just reading exhausted me. The best advice if you insist on joining with family and friends outside of your home is to quarantine for 2 weeks prior to the visit; travel by car and do not have any interactions along the journey. Many people will take the risk and travel and I wish them the best; safe, easy travel to their families.
Tomorrow is another day. It’s a saying we have all heard and said. It takes on a surreal meaning now, don’t you think? I feel like I am living in the film, ‘Groundhog Day.’ We are stuck in the doldrums of lockdown, curfews and restrictions. We mark the passage of time with the meals we cook in an unrelenting feeling of sameness: breakfast, lunch, dinner…repeat, over and over.
We long to get back to normal, but I am not sure that there is going to be any going back for us. We will come through the pandemic at some point and it will once again be safe to interact freely with each other. But if we think, for one second, that things will be as they were, I think we are in for yet another shock. The trauma of this pandemic will have a lasting impact on us collectively and individually. Our healthcare workers and other people in essential jobs, tasked with keeping us going will need more TLC than we have ever given. Our thoughts and prayers won’t be enough. They will need our patience, love and support.
And parents who have been home schooling or hybrid schooling or whatever we are calling it during Covid times are exhausted too. They will need our love and support as well.
Even when this thing ends, we will need to lift each other up as never before. Our battle scars will be plentiful. Our need for each other will be undeniable.
And while there will be sports again; parties again; family gatherings again; school again; dining out again; hugging and kissing again, we will be different. We will be wiser and I hope more grateful for our blessings and more grateful for each other.
If I’m completely honest, I don’t care to go back to things as they were pre-pandemic, when we collectively had less regard for human life, for those in need, for those with whom we might disagree. I won’t miss our unkindness; our capacity to hate; our cavalier cruelty. Since the pandemic began, I have seen acts of such selfless kindness, that I am filled with hope on the darkest of days. I see us coming through this as wiser, more caring and loving…scarred, of course, but restored.
We all love our friends and family. We are all tired of this pandemic. I know we just want to hug and kiss the people we love at this time of year more than any other. And yet, as it turns out, the best love we can show should be heart to heart and not face to face.
I was feeling a low buzz of anxiety most of the time. I was feeling unmoored by the uncertainty. When will we come through this? At what cost? What will we be like going forward in these divisive times? Will we actually be more compassionate and understanding?
Maybe that’s you, too?
For me the way out of those feelings is always the way out of anything troubling for me. I cook. For creative stimulation, now I cook things that are new to me, things I’ve never cooked before. I want meals to surprise us, even if nothing else in our days will.
It is the season of light so I say, decorate your house and be kind to each and every person you meet. It may seem small, but a smile or a friendly word during these hard days will go a very long way.
It’s time, people. It’s time to get into the game of life again, as best we can, cooking, creating wellness and strength so that when the time comes to leave our homes and get to the job of rebuilding our lives, connections and communities, we have the fortitude to do just that.