Remember how I said before that loneliness is one of the themes of the holiday season? And how it’s true now this year more than usual? Yeah.
This year I won’t be seeing my brothers for Christmas. Or my husband’s family. Or any of my cousins. I might not even see my parents, because there’s a pandemic and it’s been heinously mismanaged, to the point of abject criminality, here in Texas and here in the US. Honestly, I’m not whining about it and know that other people have it way worse. But this will actually be the first Christmas in my life I haven’t had my big extended family around me in some way, and it has taken a while for that to sink in, with the magnitude it deserves.
Am I special in this circumstance? Absolutely not. Most of my friends are in this exact same situation. Most of the people I know with any sense at all are in this exact same situation.
But let me tell you a story about some of the folks in my neighborhood.
A few weekends ago — this was a week after Thanksgiving break had ended — my husband and I were walking through our neighborhood on a Saturday morning, like we do. (We often walk in the mornings and evenings just to get out and avoid being sedentary when the weather is nice. It’s also one of our fun times to talk and connect with each other.) So we’re going down one of the streets and hear a lot of screaming.
Like, kids screaming. In a happy way.
We look in the direction of the sound and see a bouncy castle. We’re walking down that street anyway, and we see a bouncy castle filled with unmasked children screaming their heads off with joy. In the front yard next to the bouncy castle, which was a space about 10′ x 15′, there are SIXTEEN unmasked adults. Mixing and mingling, visiting with each other from just a foot or two away, drinking hot beverages, passing babies around. There are lots of balloons in the yard, including a giant 8, so we figured it was an eight-year-old’s birthday party. Also perhaps a super-spreader event. We were appalled and stayed as far away from it as we could. (Not difficult, as the streets are wide and we could be thirty feet away right across from them with no trouble.)
Then that evening, we were out for another walk, like we do, and going down that same street, we encountered ANOTHER BOUNCY HOUSE PARTY in a front yard TWO HOUSES DOWN from the one that morning. No kidding! This one was clearly a holiday party. No masks on any of the kids or legions of adults in the front yard and in and out of the house, but plenty of foam antlers on their heads. Catering truck on the street. Seriously, people?
I can’t even tell you how many party rental trucks we’ve seen around the neighborhood and in the residential area around our school over the last several weeks.
Don’t even get me started on school.
So yeah, this is a Christmas we’re going to be without our friends and family in person. That sucks, but also, it’s not going to be like this next year (let’s hope). I’m trying to find silver linings, like the mellow chill we can actually have in our house because we aren’t doing any entertaining. I might try out some new recipes. Catch up on some movies, play some board games. Read some books. Write one. Something.
The long and short is that this theme of being without our people hits differently this year. And I have to admit, of all the new Christmas songs I’ve encountered, of all the holiday songs about loneliness, this one might actually be my new favorite.
Happy Solstice. Get out there tonight, if your skies are clear, and look at the Grand Conjunction. Your own little holiday star, if you will. Cheers!