And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

With Thanksgiving out of the way, Christmas is now looming. And I say looming, because pre-pandemic, I wasn’t crazy about Christmas, and this year, I’m even less crazy about it. The news is filled with dire warnings, warnings which I take very seriously, and so of course, it’s leading me to wonder if Christmas is going to happen at all. It will certainly not be the usual Christmas. It will likely be a Christmas spent staring at a computer screen at faces I love staring back at me.

Now I live in a 3-story condo, which does not have a basement. It also has only a one car garage. So storage is at a premium. Consequently, we rent a storage space off-site, and that is where all of our Christmas stuff resides. One of the reasons I’m not crazy about Christmas is that it just adds more to-do’s on my already overflowing to-do list. I have to:

  • Drive to the storage facility.
  • Probably forget the key to the padlock, have to drive back home, then return to the storage facility, where I will struggle with remembering the passcode on the keypad outside the locked gate. And where the gate will likely malfunction.
  • Figure out which boxes marked Christmas are filled with the Christmas decorations we actually use – there are years represented here, and also several life situations. Michael’s life before us, our life before Michael, and all of us together. So we don’t use it all. But we don’t get rid of it either.
  • Load the car.
  • Reload the car with better organization so that it all actually fits.
  • Drive home.
  • Carry all of the stuff up to the second floor, which is where our living room is. Endure swearing and groaning and the required tripping over two cats and a dog.
  • Move the piano so that there is room for the tree. Not easy.
  • Designate the setting up of the tree and the decorating of it to Michael and Olivia because I have to get to work in my office upstairs.
  • Listen to increasing decibels as Michael’s grumpiness grows and wait for the final, “I’m done! This is all yours now!” and the flump as he throws himself muttering into his recliner.
  • Wait for Olivia to call me downstairs to admire the tree.
  • Spend the rest of the season yelling at the cats to get out of the tree and picking up cat barf from their chewing on it and sweeping up broken ornaments that they knock down.
  • Spend the rest of the season reassuring the scared-of-everything dog that the tree is not a monster and nothing she needs to be terrified of. Up her dose of CBD. Think about plying her with Fireball. Instead, ply myself.
  • Christmas is over, do all of this in reverse, swear never to do it again.

Doesn’t that sound like fun? Oh, sing we joyous all together! But I have to admit, on Christmas morning, the tree sparkling, the kids under my roof, the granddaughter piping away in excitement, the aroma of cinnamon rolls throughout, well, for that moment, it’s all worth it.

But this year…well, it’s different, isn’t it. We don’t know right now if there will be an in-person family get-together at Christmas or if I will be delivering presents to doorsteps and then we will watch each other open those presents on Zoom.

So frankly, I have absolutely no desire to go through steps 1 – 14 above. The three of us talked about it, and none of us were enthusiastic.

One night late last week, I sat in my recliner after everyone else went to bed. It was around two in the morning and it was dark outside. Inside, I had the fireplace on and the reading light over my chair and I sat in my circle of heat and glow, enjoying a very good book. I looked at the corner of the living room, where the tree would normally go. Where it should be, by now.

But I still didn’t want it. Just the thought of it made me moan with overload. But clearly, something was missing. As a nod to holiday glee, Michael brought home a small rubber ducky wearing a Santa hat and it sat on our piano, but it seemed more pathetic than gleeful.

Something was missing. Well, a lot would be missing this Christmas, but in that room, something was missing.

So I went upstairs to my computer and got on Amazon. I ordered a teeny tiny tree that came with lights, sparkly ornaments, pine cones, a star, and a piece of bright silver fabric to wrap around the base. It arrived just in time for Olivia to come home for Thanksgiving break, which will blend into Christmas break. Her college is going remote for the last few weeks of this semester, so she’s home through January, when the school will decide if face to face classes will resume or if it will stay remote. More uncertainty. I handed her the little tree to decorate. And she did a lovely job.

A few nights ago, I was alone in my recliner again, everyone asleep. The only one with me was a little gray cat who purred  on my lap. The fireplace was on. My reading light was on. A very good book was balanced on the cat’s back. And I looked toward the island which separates our living room from our kitchen.

The tree, tidy and small, glowed softly in the dark. It threw out little glimmers of red, blue, green, and yellow. The ornaments, sprinkled with glitter, reflected and sparkled. The star at the top glistened. At the base of the tree, I’d set a Christmas card a student sent me. It was hand-painted with watercolors, and inside, her message was written in calligraphy. I knew this was this student’s first attempt at both painting and calligraphy. It was beautiful. It was hopeful, a reaching out to the future with new abilities and talents and dreams achieved.

That little glow soothed me. It was enough, for this Christmas.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

The little Christmas ducky.
Muse, the little gray kitty asleep on my lap.
The little tree that night.
The little tree during the day.

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