The other day, I received a package from a dear friend of mine in California. I opened it to find a Santa Claus Christmas ornaments. Nothing unusual or noteworthy about that, you say. The world is rife with Santa Claus ornaments. What was unusual and noteworthy was the fact that Santa Claus was wearing a mask.
We have been constantly figuring out new ways of living due to the pandemic for almost a year now. As a society, I guess we are becoming adept enough at it to celebrate the festive season of the year despite danger of contagion. After all, if Santa Claus is going to visit all the good little boys and girls all over the world, damn straight he better be wearing a mask.
It beats the Santa I saw in the mall the other day. Instead of a mask, he was wearing a clear plastic face shield. The thing was, it was fitted so close to his face that the curvature of the plastic and the reflection of the lights caused a lot of distortion. It created an overall effect that was pretty disturbing. I am certain that Santa terrified a lot of small children. Sadly, children have become used to friendly faces partially concealed by masks. I don’t think that any of us will ever get used to a Santa who looks like a malevolent alien.
It isn’t just Santa. I am going Christmas caroling tonight. We will be singing through masks. Rather than gathering cozily in doorways, we will be spreading out on front lawns like blow-up ornaments. I am sure that many, many neighbors will be hearing us. Even if they don’t want to. A friend was saying the other day that she always bakes Christmas cookies for her grandchildren, and this is the first year she has to mail them. She is earnestly seeking packing solutions to ensure the cookies arrive as cookies and not as boxes of crumbs. I guess, when you are in a pandemic, that is the way the cookie crumbles. A cast member at Disney was telling me that she is shopping for her niece, who lives locally, but her sister insists that she mail the presents. She must also send them at least a week early so her sister can quarantine them for a few days before putting them under the tree. Even Kringle, my miniature elf on the shelf, has been more socially distant this year. This morning, Max had to give me clues that narrowed down his position with the pinpoint accuracy of laser surgery before I could find him.
People are more isolated this year. Most folks will not be traveling or even seeing all the family and friends with whom they usually celebrate. Some people who find comfort and joy in attending church services with others will be sitting at home in front of the television or computer, passing the virtual peace to their fellow congregants.
I am tired of masks. I am tired of distance. I am tired of not hugging. I am tired of having to rethink everything I do to try to safely retain some semblance of my humanity. The Christmas season sort of accentuates the issues. On the other hand, it is also exciting and hopeful to see how far we have come. Many of us are coming up with ways of continuing to live a normal life in a safe manner. The COVID-19 numbers are not decreasing. In fact, they are spiking significantly where I live. However, treatments seem to be improving and fewer people seem to be getting very sick. We can see a suite of approved vaccines on the horizon, even though it may be several months before most of us can obtain one. All of this is hopeful news, during a season when hope is a hallmark. So, we try to do our best to rejoice in what we have, look forward to a better future, and give thanks for all our blessings…. From a distance.
It is also important to remember the true meaning of Christmas and that the future is not just tomorrow or next year. For those of us who believe in God’s promises, we have an eternity of joy before us. I am pretty sure there will be no masks in heaven. The real hope in a Christmas season filled with masks and distances and touch prohibitions is that God is never socially distant. The baby who was born in Bethlehem so many centuries ago reaches out to touch our hearts and souls every day. It is okay to hug back!
Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you are all doing well and enjoying the season, in whatever way brings you satisfaction, safety, and delight! What are you doing differently this year? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at www.terrilabonte.com.
Have a holly jolly day!