Aaaah the holiday season. Where we once galivanted merrily to Grandma’s house, fire blazing under a row of stockings, food as far as the eye could see. Where uncles and aunties gathered at Nana’s table to share the Kwanzaa feast, sharing stories of days gone by, dancing to the music playing throughout the house, while the green and red candles glow warmly on the Kinara. Where we were welcomed with open arms into Abba’s home, the laughter of cousins happily playing with their new dreidels and showing off their new sweaters, the Menorah lighting the den with its warm glow. Where we went outside with our circle of friends and family, bonfire blazing and music lilting across the yard, and strung homemade garlands of berries and nuts across the evergreens behind the house, thanking the Dark for its lessons and comfort while preparing for the return of the warmth of the Light.
Maybe your holidays look like that still today, but for many, they don’t. While the world is working incredibly hard to get back to “normal” (whatever that means), so many of us still look at the holidays as a time of increased potential of exposure – exposure to the seemingly endless cycles of COVID19 variants, exposure to flu which keeps sending people to the hospital in droves, and even exposure to RSV for kids and adults alike! The holidays can be hard for many without the added devastation of the pandemic and all it comes with, but that does not mean that there can be no joy this holiday season.
This year, as in recent years past, maybe Christmas (and Kwanzaa, Hanukah, and Yule) will mean a little bit more…
Maybe this year, your holidays mean Zoom calls with the grandkids, their eyes twinkling from the flame of the candle on the Menorah they just lit that night, giggling as they play with the new dreidel they unwrapped, knowing that they can count on that gift from you every year.
Maybe this year, you have to raise your voice a little louder as you sing Christmas carols in front of your neighbors’ homes, keeping distance while filling the air with hope and love, the next day watching your nieces and nephews across the country open their gifts on FaceTime, showing off the sweaters you knit for them, weaving love into every strand, and pretending to feed you cookies they baked over the phone.
Maybe this year, you sit around the Kinara, seven bright candles lighting the words on the pages as you and your spouse reflect on the importance of heritage, forging new traditions on the pages of your journal as your children dance in socked feet, sliding across the hardwood floors as they sing.
Maybe this year, you honor the longest night by stringing evergreen branches over your altar, hanging homemade bird feeders from the trees, then rushing inside to Zoom with your grandma as she animatedly tells your children stories around candles or a fire, reflecting with gratitude on the gifts and graces of the year past.
Maybe this year, New Year’s Eve looks like a table for two, in your own kitchen, with party hats, a giggling granddaughter, and a grape juice toast on FaceTime at midnight with your daughter, a doctor in the ER across town, weary yet grateful for these small moments of peace in her world.
However you choose to celebrate this holiday season, please remember that though the current state of the pandemic has changed the way many of us continue to live our everyday lives, it doesn’t have to diminish the magic of the holidays. We can all choose this time of year to fill our hearts with gratitude – gratitude for what we have, what we’ve learned, and how far we’ve come. We are so grateful to be here with you all, able to celebrate the holidays with those we love, with hearts full of abundant hope for the New Year to come.
From the VANTAGE Aging family to yours – May your homes be filled with comfort and joy this holiday season.