Recently, I walked into our spare bedroom in search of something, and there stood the music stand and the little gadget we used to hold our cell phones to record singing videos during the pandemic. I hope we never, ever have to do that again.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I am ready for real holidays this year. It feels like it’s been too long since we’ve been able to enjoy December without conducting a home lab test every time we sneezed or coughed. 2020 was horrible. Sitting in front of the TV on Christmas Eve watching services being streamed to empty churches. Recording (with much angst and frustration) a few anthems at home so they could be uploaded to a video our Chorale produced since we couldn’t do a Christmas concert. Putting a still-warm Christmas dinner in plastic containers to take to a nearby relative, who was quarantined in her retirement community. Earnestly decorating the house even though no one was going to see it except my husband and me. And even last year, Covid was still very much here. We sang Christmas concerts masked and barely got them in before a resurgence of the virus that would have canceled our performances. We attended Christmas Eve church socially distanced and with masks but couldn’t sing in the choir because of a Covid outbreak. We were still cautious about going anywhere indoors with other people.
I know, what we experienced was minimal compared to those who lost loved ones and who fought the battle on the front lines of the medical and business community. But if nothing else, the pandemic holidays were a harsh reminder of how much we take for granted. How we assume that we’ll always be able to do whatever we choose and whatever we’ve always done before. Until we can’t.
So this year, I’m ready for all of it. Let’s haul out the holly and sing the Hallelujah Chorus and do whatever else brings the spirit of the season. For us, that means making plans and filling up our December calendar. We’re singing as often as we possibly can, even if it means still donning the occasional mask. We’re attending concerts and saying yes to invitations and welcoming friends and family into our home again.
But the Covid scars remain—the plastic screens at check-outs, the mask requirements at medical facilities, the number of people still contracting the virus which is, thankfully for most, more of an inconvenience than a crisis. All of the holiday hoop-la is still tinged with the memory of the last two years. Which makes me appreciate the season all the more—from its over-the-top commercialism to the humbling and profound faith journey through the darkness of Advent to the light of Christmas.
This year, more than ever, we need a little Christmas.