Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Christmas This Year

We have a modest house. Three small bedrooms, one and a half bath. Some would call it a “starter home” but I have lived here since I was 24 and I believe I will some day die here. I hope so, to be honest, if I had to choose between that and somewhere else. 

And yet, this was the very first year I have ever had Thanksgiving dinner in my own home. Always at my parents’ house -- including last year -- on the other side of town. Or at my wife's folk's place. Never here. That changed this year, for obvious reasons. And the only Christmas morning I have spent here was in 2002, when my wife was expecting our January-born daughter.

So. A modest home. I love it here. But it’s not very big. And this year many of the things that would otherwise happen elsewhere are happening here. And it's taking up space.

We often wrap presents at my mother-in-law's house, to be doled out to nieces and nephews and other relations in person on Christmas Day. Our dining room has become not only this year’s wrapping central, but also the site for packing boxes for shipping, most of which has thankfully already been completed.

Normally, those presents that wrapped pre-travel would be stashed away somewhere, waiting to be stacked into our car. This year they are crowded under our usually present-free tree. They are stacked high, off to one side of the tree, or we would not be able to navigate the fireplace and the furniture of our living room.

There is also a cache of snack sized bags of chips and mini cans of coke and water and bars to put out for the delivery workers, postal workers, UPS, FedEx, Amazon, who stop by two, three, four times a day, working overtime to ship things which otherwise might be shopped for or brought personally to their destination.

The snack table has become an anthropological experiment. Given the choice of only Coke or water, most choose Coke. Chips over Nutrigrain bars. Doritos over potato chips. If I was delivering packages, these would be my choices, too.

Already one of our available downstairs tables has served as my quarantine office, there is little additional space to spare. The crèche of my childhood, recovered earlier this year from my mother’s house, is for the first time on display here, featured on the piano. I do not know its provenance. Norway? 

The child is made of wax, it has been kept cool and dry and has lasted I do not know how long. There is no longer anyone for me to ask. 

So here we are, we four. There is no one else I would more prefer to have in my company. We plan to rise late, open presents, Zoom with uncles and aunts and cousins and the grandmother. We will watch movies plays games, and dine on Chinese food. We have it good.

And the weather report is for a winter storm over the next three days. We may, indeed, have a white Christmas.

A COVID Christmas Carol
One of the grand prize winners of the Great Lakes Theater
"A Christmas Carol" Writing Contest (2020)

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