Best Laid Plans . . .
A holiday-themed blog post was the last thing on my mind when I planned my post for this week.
In keeping with my blogging premise for this year, I had intended this week’s post to continue chronicling my journey toward writing a memoir. In fact, this would have been the triumphal post in which I announced that I had finished a complete draft of the memoir after five separate attempts.
Versions one through four next got past ten chapters, but now I had finally pushed through to the end of the narrative. Yes, I would admit, the really challenging work came next – “Killing my darlings,” the dread of every writer, but a particular horror for memoirists. Her “darlings” are real people and the way things “truly happened.” Unfortunately, that by itself does not justify putting them in a memoir. Time to edit. Now, however, I had an actual document to edit.
This time, last year
Before I could begin that worthwhile endeavor, however, our family Christmas fell apart. It feels so much worse than last year. For months before it arrived, we knew that Christmas, 2020, would be a “no show.” As elders, isolated from the world at large and our family, in particular, my husband and I convinced ourselves that Christmas for just the two of us could be “romantic.” We lit the fireplace, dimmed the lights, and exchanged gifts (okay, I gave him a gift; Jay is not that good at gift-giving and usually relies on the kids to fill up my stocking.).
At mid-morning, we tuned in to the Portal and had an “online” Christmas exchange with our children and grandchildren. We felt grateful for the technology that brought their faces and voices to us – if not their presence. We then settled down to watch “Mary Poppins (the original one) on television, a movie we had first viewed on our honeymoon. As we turned out the lights that night, we congratulated ourselves on making the best we could of an unbelievably tough situation and went to bed convinced that Christmas, 2021 would be a much better and more traditional experience.
deja vu, all over again
It should have been, but it was not. Our daughter Betsy and her family arrived in Portland from Boston a week ago Monday to join her sister Carrie’s family as well as my husband and me for a week of Christmas celebrating. A small cloud hung over them as they arrived. Our grandson Bryce had only just found out he had been exposed to Covid-19 the night before.
Our daughters immediately canceled plans for a full family gathering until Bryce could be tested three days after exposure. We all were sure he would be negative, but the theme of “keep the elders safe” prevailed. Our certainty was ill-founded. Bryce did, indeed, contract Covid. He had to isolate himself from the entire family. Even worse, because they had all been with him until his test, our daughters, sons-in-law, and granddaughter now felt compelled to avoid contact with us.
the breaking point
To add a cherry to this unsavory sundae, they also begged us not to go to church. Being able, this Advent to celebrate the sacred season once again with the community of faith had been a boundless joy. Now, once again, we must remain at home even though our parish would be celebrating three Christmas Eve masses. Isolation is a terrible scourge for seniors in our society during the best of times. During this pandemic, it has wracked havoc with our mental and emotional well-being to the breaking point.
In August, Jay and I lost his brother to the pandemic and could not at that time have a memorial service. Now once again we were losing the rituals and traditions that sustained us. It was hard to find a reason for rejoicing. But God did not abandon us. When I sat down to write this post, Misericordia, the home that cared so well for our disabled children for years, sent us a message.
o come, o come, emmanuel!
Father Jack’s would have Christmas Eve Mass at the Home broadcast that evening. Jay and I could join an important part of our family, the folks at Misericordia, to celebrate the essence of Christmas, the birth of Jesus, the coming of light and hope into darkness, a light that shines as brightly tonight as it did over 2,000 years ago.
“Any one thinking of the Holy Child as born in December would mean by it exactly what we mean by it; that Christ is not merely a summer sun of the prosperous but a winter fire for the unfortunate.”
The New Jerusalem, Ch. 5https://www.churchpop.com/2014/12/03/g-k-chesterton-on-christmas/
8 Replies to “Christmas: Lost & Found”
Making lemonade out of a big basket of lemons. God works in mysterious ways and always in a timely manner.
The mystery this time is really big!
Jule, what a bumpy ride you’ve had over the holidays! I’m glad you are playing it safe! I hope your family is well!
We are all well now and hoping summer sees us getting together.
So sorry to learn of your truncated Christmas celebration. We had a similar experience this year. Steve fell ill in mid-December. He got a rapid COVID test which turned out to be negative. A few days later he was still feeling badly, so he went back for a PCR test. When the results came back a couple of days later, they were positive. Of course by that time he had infected Nicole. Plans to spend the Christmas day with our daughter, Lise, and her husband flew out the window. We’ll hopefully be celebrating a belated Christmas with them on New Year’s Day. In the meantime we seem to be recovering nicely. Nicole still has a bit of a sniffle and Steve has an occasional cough, but other than that it’s starting to feel like we’re back to normal. We’re so grateful that we got two and a boost earlier this year. Otherwise we would most likely have ended up in the hospital or worse. Now another COVID Christmas has come and gone, but the message that Christmas brings still remains strong in our hearts.
Nicole and Steve,
It is inspiring to see how these hard times are strengthening people’s faith and making us so aware of our deepest values.
Unfortunately, we too had an unexpected Christmas compliments of Covid. Jamie, Annie, Joey and Vivi came in from CA, confident that their vaccinations, boosters and masks would be enough protection. We managed several days of Dan’s family joining us to play and have dinner, a trip to Lincoln Park Zoo Lights (masked and outdoors) and an outside visit with Kathy, Evan and the puppies. On Xmas Eve, Annie wasn’t feeling well so we proceeded to all be tested. Annie was positive, several of us were negative, and the other tests have yet to come back. We found other test sites and only Annie is positive so far. Long term tests are still not reported. The upside(for Mike and me) is our CA group has had to extend their visit; downside is we have to distance and wear masks even in our home and we can’t see the rest of the family. Everyone is making the best of it and Joey was quite excited to see some snowflakes today. Ours is not an isolated experience this year. Our hearts go out to all whose wonderful expectations for a better holiday than last year were not realized. At least, we are in isolation with those we really love!
I hope that Annie is now completely recovered.
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