And just like that, it’s December… December!
I wrote that sentence a week ago with grand plans to reconnect to this space—to all of you—but somehow time got away from me and, well, here we are. The truth is, like many of you, I’m exhausted. Really flipping exhausted.
I’m a rule follower at heart. Not a put-your-baby-on-a-strict-schedule-and-make-sure-your-Christmas-lights-are-down-by-January, Karen type of rule follower—but the kind who thinks it important to do the right the thing, treat people the right way and, overall, be on the kind and gracious side of humanity—or at least to give it my best effort. However this year, and especially the last few months, I have been more conflicted than ever before about what is right and what is wrong. Just trying to keep up with the policies and expectations along with not making snap judgements of people I see has left me drained.
Contradictions exist in every news cycle and the lack of logic, common sense and consistency is tough to navigate. When my mental health starts to falter and I’m drawn to real, face-to-face connection, I’m overwhelmed with guilt for thinking that the rules can bend for me. I’m emotionally drained if I do and emotionally drained if I don’t. And now, December and Christmas—my favourite time of year—is threatened by the big giant storm cloud that is 2020. And I’m over it.
Of course what I want is to go back to normal. To big family dinners and coffee dates with friends. To arguing with my parents about stupid things that really don’t matter instead of arguing about how my kids need to wear masks around them because, Mom and Dad, news flash… You’re high risk! I want to visit my 92-year-old grandfather. And I would love to watch my kids play a soccer game and peek in the door at the dance studio to watch a ballet class. Yes, I definitely want it all back.
But also—and if you aren’t looking for a bright side here you should probably just stop reading and move on with your day—I’m comforted by the fact that, during this less than predictable year, December still came. That the comforting familiarity of this time of year, still exists.
The lights are up and the well-known melodies and lyrics of our Holiday Favourites playlist have been drifting through the house for weeks. We are trying to channel the Who’s down in Whoville—raising a collective middle finger to the Grinch on the peak of Mount Crumpit. And, in our home, we are holding tight to the simple joys and quiet traditions this holiday season is still offering us. Like what? Like…
1. Scented candles
2. Holiday movies/music/stories
3. Christmas lights
4. Creative friends who find ways to connect
5. Popcorn and hot chocolate
6. Puzzles and games
7. Chocolate advent calendars
8. Gingerbread/shortbread/sugar cookies (How can you choose?)
9. Ornaments with meaning and history
10. Rigby—our elf. This usual holiday annoyance is giving me all the magical feels this year.
So yes, this December will be more intimate than most—that’s a guarantee—and I’m all for this Covid fiasco ending ASAP. But as we all know, 2021 holds no guarantees. January 1 is just the day after December 31. I’m trying to reign in my expectations—I don’t want to reach for too much only to end up disappointed. And without guarantees, I’m determined to cling to what is here in front of me. Right now, that is the comfort of Christmas.
We all miss our people and our communities and we are all going to make choices about how we celebrate this month. But as we do, let’s also do our best not to judge—to remember that we don’t know anyone’s story. There are assholes out there, absolutely, but some people don’t do well alone—especially at the holidays. And before we share memes about being together next Christmas—remember that 2020 was some people’s grand finale. And this, this 2020 Christmas, will be the last one they have.
I hope you’re finding comfort in small moments and favourite traditions this December. And know that, however you’re feeling, you’re not alone. Now, if you’ll excuse me, another Christmas movie is calling my name.