Hey, look! The Streicher 2020 Christmas Tree is up and properly aglow. If you’ve seen this corner of my living room during any holiday season in the last, oh, eight to ten years, you know that this display follows along in the fine traditions we’ve observed for quite some time now.
New Christmas stockings. We’ve been using the set I bought back when the third and fourth daughters were nothing more than wishful thinking, so I decided it was high time for a change.
But please don’t be fooled by superficialities. The truth is that this year is most definitely different.
Because what we learned in 2020, beyond the behaviors of an airborne virus and the limits of our medical infrastructure, is that life has the capacity to throw some major curve balls.
And no matter how many vaccines roll off the pharmaceutical factory floors and and into our arms in 2021, life will never, ever go back to what it was at this time last year.
Seems like a long, long time ago.
What we know now is that in spite of our technological prowess, postmodern self-awareness, and innovative ability to confront new challenges head in, we actually have precious little control over this world and what happens to us as we ride around the sun.
Mantle styling by me and three of my daughters. Truly a team effort.
At first blush, that may sound like a terrifying curse.
Simple things that we, oh, so recently took completely for granted have become deadly dangerous.
Visiting grandparents at the nursing home.
Mailing out invitations for a wedding.
Sending our kids off to college.
People have died. Lots of people. Those of us who survive are left to not only to mourn but to navigate a heaping helping of survivors’ guilt.
And still we find those among us who see wearing a scrap of fabric over half their face as a symbol of oppression and governmental overreach.
Yes, yes, yes, this year has given us much cause for dismay.
Here’s something else I learned this year: working from home involves a lot of electrical cords.
But this year has also taught us some beautiful truths:
The selflessness of our medical professionals - practitioners and researchers alike - and the people who make their work possible
The adaptability and ingenuity of our education professionals who found clever and never-been-done-before ways to turn their students into at-home learners.
The willingness of almost everyone to dig in and do their share, helping out wherever they saw a need.
The beauty of our interconnectedness
The capacity of the human spirit for hope.
And the delicious realization that even in our world of movie reboots, gender reveals, product launch parties, and Wikipedia, this world still has a profound capacity
to catch us completely off guard,
to send a shock to our systems,
to make us rethink exactly what it means t be alive,
and to make us appreciate, even more than before, every single day that we are alive and well.
Our old tree lights were about 50% dead, and the new lights back-ordered till December 23, so I had to make do with a rather janky light situation. Still, when I squint my eyes, the tree looks fine.
And if that isn’t the perfect metaphor for this interesting year, I am quite sure that don’t know what is.
So as we trim our trees, deck our halls, and hang our stockings with socially-distant care, I am especially thankful to be here, alive and well with plenty of toilet paper on hand, for this crazy Covid Christmas.
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My Covid compendium of stories: