Is the Holiday Spirit in Quarantine?

Does the Christmas spirit have COVID? Is Santa going to wear a mask to every single house? Questions that are being that we parents never once thought we would have to ponder. I’m used to the easily explainable “how does he get into homes that have no chimneys”? But now I’m stumped. I don’t know if the elves are going to swab Old St. Nick.

It seems as though everyone is searching these days for some sort of magical experience to show them that life is OK. Seriously this magic of Christmas that we always talk about but so many are saying they don’t feel it this year. So what is this magic we are waiting for to illuminate us? Is it boxes and packages, ribbons and bows? As I stalk the FedEx and UPS tracking systems for my gifts that have yet to arrive and pray that Amazon prime delivers on prime time and not the delayed time. Is that really what the spirit and Miracle is all about?

As many of us are forced to watch our Christmas Eve masses and attend church virtually, will we find the spirit? I know that there has been many a year that I did not feel connected to the season in the spirit of the season until sitting in that mass on Christmas Eve listening to the service and the children’s choir and the bells ringing and suddenly the entire season gets tied up with that nice emotional bow. But what are we going to do this year? I don’t have the Bishop to tie a bow on my ear, I don’t have big family dinners, I don’t have fun parties with friends. My children haven’t been to school all year and everyone feels like something is missing. What is this something? This emptiness so many feel but are unable to give the adjectives to fully understand it.

For those of us that believe that Christmas is celebrating the birth of a baby to Mary and Joseph perhaps we should think back to baby Jesus’ birth. There was no wrapping paper and register receipts, there were no cars with reindeer antlers and noses, no stockings hung by the chimney, no hopes of a man in a sleigh bringing you a Nintendo Switch or a new car. There was simply the joy of being.

Now, far be it for me to become philosophical or overly religious for anyone’s liking but I can’t help but see the parallels of our modern day pandemonium to the ancient aching of souls for a sign of peace, of rescue. Now, fold into that the recent Great Conjunction and I can’t help but feel hopeful that peace is on its way.

If we push aside the media and political rhetoric that has many of us considering a daily dose of Valium, and hit the pause button. Watch your day frame by frame. Behind our masks we are more friendly. Our communities pull together to collect funds for the UPS delivery man, or the Papa John’s delivery man, or the checkout girl at Aldi who can barely make ends meet. We post on Facebook if anyone needs a holiday meal we have plenty to share. We are increasingly aware of those around us that need more than we do and many are stepping up to the plate. Isn’t that what the spirit of the season is about? Giving our stable because there is no room at the inn?

We may not have as much to give financially this year. Our ribbons and bows may be less. But many a heart has grown, some to even three times its size. My patience has seemingly diminished to three times it’s normal size, but I’ve never been given accolades for my ability to sit and wait.

I feel like I’m waiting for the spirit of the season to wash over me a feeling of peace and contentment. Of organized control and a drop of lassie faire. But that’s not in my DNA. I’m a go full speed all the time kind of person, I even nap all the pistons firing. But that calm serenity wouldn’t be the spirit of the season, it would likely be a full frontal lobotomy. I cannot wish for what will not be.

So, I will look around and notice the small signs of the seasonal magic. The laughter of my children. The increasingly helpful nature of them. And the calls from our elf Bernard for his check ins on everyone’s behavior. And I will smile when my youngest puts on too small pants… so small he looks like he’s going to the ballet to dance. And because of this I have to pull a present out from under the tree… new, bigger pants. But the sweetest part? He thanks me for his early present and says “And it’s ok that I won’t have any others because I needed this now… I can watch everyone else enjoy theirs”. Out of the mouths of babes.

So while I don’t know if Santa has been swabbed. And I don’t know about his mask status. I do know that the miracle of the season is here and amongst us all. We just need to stop for a moment, breathe and keep our sanity.

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