Have a Resilient Christmas!

Christmas is around the corner with New Year’s Eve and 2021 just beyond that. How are you feeling today? Are you, like me, working to wrap your head around a pandemic Christmas? Are you looking at your 2021 calendar hoping for better days? I cannot believe we are still dealing with these restrictions, over nine months later.* Is pandemic fatigue or frustration fogging your season?

Heading into my 10th month….

I made a list of my favorite things about Christmas, the fun and meaningful ones. I assessed the list and realized most of my Christmas favorites can still be part of Christmas 2020. That was so encouraging and provided a good perspective. A few things were adapted in new ways. And just a couple were actually put on hold this year.

Perhaps you too have noticed how much is similar to past years. For instance, here’s a few:

  • Decorations inside and outside our home
  • Enjoying some of the same favorite holiday foods
  • Stockings are hung
  • Baking cookies
  • Pretty presents wrapped and ready for delivery
  • Holiday music playing
  • Steaming hot cocoa fills our mugs on cold evenings
  • Taking a drive after dark to see Christmas lights
  • Favorite Christmas movies and claymation stories entertain
  • Cards and letters are trickling in
  • Plenty of Hallmark movies with quaint snowy towns and holiday romance. Who ever tires of a happy ending?
Decorating at home has gotten simpler over time. The tiny tree is still a happy tree.
Favorite foods – I love Stouffer’s lasagna, especially at the holidays.
A lovely neighborhood home with gate decorated
More outdoor decorations in our area
The stockings are hung by the chimney with care.
Gifts wrapped and waiting to go.

And yet hovering over everything is the ominous CoVid19 cloud and all the challenges with that. It has taken the shine off this time of year for many, even if only slightly. It also brings a more intense sense of missing and longing for people and traditions, not part of this year. I have to acknowledge that for many of us this time is also littered with disappointment, stress, uncertainty, painful loss, and limited social life for those following guidelines. Those are weighty things for sure.

Sometimes this virus feels like a Grinch ready to steal Christmas. So much is so different. Yet we can choose to not let the pandemic ruin Christmas. I hope we can all find a centered place of contentment, reflecting on the good we have encountered this year. What can you find to enjoy? Who can we encourage? Maybe we can express thanks to any essential workers with whom our paths cross. Perhaps we can focus on what we have, what we hope for, instead of what is missing and has been lost. Then the Grinch virus will not ruin Christmas. It is about more than the fixings and the fuss.

From the TV special, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (1966)

I know some are so lonely and blue this Christmas because of cancelled plans and limited contact. My heart goes out to them. It is so hard to overcome in these circumstances. I pray those dear ones can find hope and joy in their holiday, too.

Here in Los Angeles County, we are on a stricter “Stay at Home” order through Christmas. For most years of my adult life, I’d be thrilled to be asked to stay at home for Christmas. But somehow this is not exactly what I meant.

We are having a very different December. Christmas celebrations for us won’t include the physical presence of family or friends beyond our CoVid home bubble. We choose to do what we can to slow the spread and to follow the county and state requests. That isn’t easy, but we feel like we want to contribute in that way.

I hope you and your loved ones are doing OK as you finish planning and preparations. I also hope you are kind to yourself this year, accepting what you cannot control, and enjoying what you can. Maybe if we just have a day without controversy, conspiracy, or conflict. That would be a good gift. And I hope you, like me, are able to enjoy a slower schedule.

In closing, I also want to wish happy holidays to all my friends who celebrate different traditions with family and friends. Perhaps you recently finished the meaningful time of Hanukkah. For those honoring Kwanzaa, you will begin soon and are probably already looking forward to the feast. As the different celebrations always remind us, we can get through this together.

Stay resilient, my friends! And merry Christmas to all celebrating the birth of Christ this week.

I toast to you and yours this Christmas with hot chocolate in hand. Cheers!

P.S. *Speaking of nine months of pandemic life, here come the babies! Perhaps you’ve noticed that we are heading into a little baby boom, and it’s underway now. New sweet little ones are making their way into the world, and we are cheered by that for sure!

It’s Almost Halloween, So When Do You Start Christmas Fun?

It is almost Halloween. Scary, isn’t it? Time still creeps by, even in a pandemic.

O.K. Corral Museum, Tombstone, Arizona – 2019

And if it’s Halloween with all the tricks and treats, you know that it’s almost Christmas somewhere.

Sugar Cookies from Alicia’s Cookery & Catering, Brea, CA

Now I know there are some strong opinions on Christmas and timing, too. Since everything seems controversial this year, let’s add this to the mix. We each probably land somewhere different on when is too soon for Christmas or not soon enough.

Some of you (us) are already turning our thoughts toward Christmas. You know who you are. This post is specifically for you, Christmas people. I am interested in your timeline and how you are doing in this pandemic year with setting your expectations accordingly.

First of all, how do you rate yourself as a Christmas fan? On a scale of 1-10. A “1” would be someone who appreciates usually getting the day off, but that’s about it. You might be a “10” if:

  • Your home, once decorated, looks like Hallmark used it as a set for one of their Christmas movies.
  • You go to Disneyland (if you are local) multiple times during the season (years when it is open – boo, hoo).
  • You have multiple Christmas items of clothing in your wardrobe.
  • You start listening to holiday music, well, already.
  • You are a professional when it comes to shopping for gifts and love it all – purchase to pretty packaging for delivery day. You may be done already. Or maybe you’re one who makes gifts for everyone on your list. I think that is meaningful, but definitely shows a higher level or ambition and organization.
  • You quite possibly stress out with all the demands and busy days of the season – on purpose, filling every free moment on your calendar, and then collapsing satisfied or let down shortly after the big day. And just before putting away the decorations.
  • Your expectations are high for the best Christmas ever – every year.
  • You send Christmas cards early and every year.
  • And what else?
    • For any of you who qualifies as a “10,” you probably do not have time to read this post, even now.
    • For those of us who observe, and love, the ambitious “10’s” around us, what did I forget that should be on the list?

Like I mentioned, I am interested in your traditions and how you are doing this year in light of the pandemic guidelines and how that impacts our mood. Hopefully, we can still enjoy the season in many ways. Please share!

  • When do you normally begin to honor Christmas? Does this year feel different?
  • Have you already begun to watch Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas movie series? Or do you plan to wait on that?
  • Have you been to Home Depot to check out the tree display? Or other retail displays of decorations?
  • When do you usually start listening to holiday tunes? What do you think about this year?
  • When do you decorate? What are your traditions with decorating? Will this year be any different?

I’m not feeling the momentum yet that sweetly builds from Halloween through the next two months and settles back down quietly by New Year’s Day. I typically make myself wait until after Halloween to begin listening to Christmas holiday music. My parents laid down that law when I was growing up. This year I don’t think I’ll be in the mood for the music that early. I do have election fatigue, pandemic fatigue, and conspiracy theory fatigue. That can stifle the mood, but I predict I’ll bounce back, possible later than usual.

From Lindsay & Letters (no longer available)

I go back and forth as a mid-range fan of Christmas fun. Lately, I am a “5,” average fan of Christmas who loves it, enjoys it, but keeps the calendar as open as possible and has toned down the decorating to quite minimal. I’m not into the gift part. In the past, I was more of a “7” or “8.” Going to Disneyland, if it were open, is part of the holiday magic for me. I also plan to watch a Hallmark Christmas movie. Or many. But not yet.

I have another post on Christmas 2020 coming soon, but for now, if you are a Christmas enthusiast early bird, I hope you’ll share your perspective in a comment.

Stay cheerful, my friends.

P.S. For a quick look at Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas: Are you a Hallmark fan at Christmas?

Are you a Hallmark fan at Christmas?