Maybe the best thing we can say about Christmas this year is that its arrival means this year is almost over.
The year began with such promise and optimism. Regardless of what your favorite holiday might be, 2020 seemed to be the year that had something for everyone.
Valentine’s Day was on a Friday.
Cinco de Mayo was on Taco Tuesday.
The Fourth of July was a Saturday, and so was Halloween.
And at the end of it all, the New Year would begin a three-day weekend.
On the local level, we were looking forward to the return of the Hydrofair, ROMP, Porch Fest, Friday After 5, the Bar-B-Q Festival, the Dust Bowl, Trail of Treats, Hops on the Ohio, OMG!con, a whole spectrum of concerts, 5Ks, craft shows and so much more.
Everyone was looking forward to a great year of celebration and fun.
Well, we managed to get through Valentine’s Day … but within just a few weeks, everyone hustled off to their homes to hibernate for what was then presumed to be just a few weeks – just long enough for this virus to dissipate – and then we would go back to normal.
Yeah, no, that didn’t happen.
Nobody got to wear green for St. Patrick’s Day. Instead, the focus was on a map of Kentucky that showed green counties slowly changing to yellow, then orange, and sometimes red. It was like a year filled with autumn leaves.
As this thing really got started, the first holiday that went by the wayside was Easter. No sunrise services, no fancy hats, no egg hunts.
As time went on, though, and with each successive holiday, it seemed the diligence in staying apart faded while the determination to find some way, any way, to get together with family, friends and neighbors grew.
Memorial Day cookouts were a thing; maybe with a slightly smaller crowd, but still.
And by the time Labor Day came along, for the most part, you couldn’t tell we were even living in a pandemic.
Halloween went on – if there was ever a year to embrace masks, this was it – and although maybe there were more homes than usual without a welcoming light on the front porch, there was an increase in the number of large bowls set out with a note saying “Please take one” (which kids could either obey or ignore, depending on how much they liked the candy being offered).
It was every family for itself at Thanksgiving, with some proceeding pretty much as usual with everyone crowding together to dip into the communal bowl of mashed potatoes, while others spent the day apart at their separate homes, and still others gathered with a smaller group of their closest loved ones – each group thankful in its own way for the right to observe the occasion in its own way.
And now it is Christmas.
The most wonderful time of the year?
This year? 2020?
Yes. Even in this year, even in 2020, the answer is YES.
Because Christmas isn’t – never was – about gifts and shopping and crowds and traffic and traveling. It doesn’t depend on Santa (or Amazon) loading a pile of gifts under a tree.
Christmas is about finding peace within silence, comfort in solitude, and hope.
Always – hope.