Because I have never been big on Christmas celebrations, this week really doesn’t look much different than previous ones. Perhaps it was the way I was raised, far from the city, on a large piece of land with few neighbors, and my dad working during the season, to make extra money, pruning grape vines. We seldom left our farm except for church or groceries during the cold, foggy days of winter.
Fast forward to 2020, and this week, like those when I was a child, has been very cold and very foggy. We have not seen the sun for days. I do have more Christmas decorations in the house than in the past few years because I wanted a festive backdrop for virtual storytelling with first and second graders. The mailbox has been full of Christmas cards this week. It does seem that more people have mailed cards than in the past few years. Some friends came by on Monday and dropped off a large tray of dried fruits, all products of the San Joaquin Valley. Our next door neighbor brought a large tray of cookies and fruit cake she had made. I delivered chicken pot pies to numerous friends who are under the weather and have been getting texts of gratitude. Food seems to be a big hit this year.
The cold foggy weather would keep me at home even if there wasn’t a pandemic raging out there. I have always tried to stay out of the retail environment during Christmas week, and this year that is even more the case. I shopped last week. I will pick up Christmas dinner from a local bakery on Thursday, and we will hunker down here in our snug, warm house until next week, closer to the new year.
The pandemic numbers here are so bad that we have the dubious honor of being the Number One metropolitan area for cases in the nation. I am not surprised, though, as we have such extreme poverty, with so many crowded homes with multiple generations living together just to be able to survive. Lots of essential workers, too, with low incomes, no medical insurance, and no sick leave. Then there are the privileged who insist on eating out, going to parties, going to the gym. Those three activities were not even on my radar growing up. Now people act like they are necessary for life. And yet, those activities are killing us.
We have been in a great black cave this year. I hear people say there is light at the end of the tunnel. No, not yet. The cave just got smaller, still dark and bleak; though we may have found the tunnel through which we might find our way out, what with the vaccine coming. Once I have the vaccine I will say there is light at the end of that tunnel. But it is still in the far future. Maybe next year Christmas will look different.