This past year has been incredibly challenging for many of us. The pandemic has hit us right in the gut. It’s killed thousands and thousands of people around the world who, in one form or another, have left loved ones behind: mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents or children. Their stories are unique, yet share one commonality: their lives were taken unexpectedly by a virus. It saddens me to think about how those stories may have ended, that they may have been alone in nursing homes or hospitals, without their loved ones by their side holding their hand or kissing their cheek. And those left behind to mourn their deaths often do so alone, without family and friends to comfort them. It breaks me. It hurts my heart that this is going on right now, that there are people out there in pain over the loss of a loved one.
I’m grateful I have not yet been touched by this invisible menace running amok all over the world; an enemy we can’t fight with guns or cannons or sheer willpower. I suffer from depression and anxiety due to this virus, and the fact that my husband is dealing with stage 4 cancer makes life doubly tough. But I take each day as it comes, and try not to focus on what lies ahead. Yet one must prepare for whatever may be coming our way.
My husband and I recently discussed what we were going to do for Christmas, as it will be here before we know it. We have been told by our government that we can have ten people or less for Christmas. There are only six of us in our immediate family, yet still I worry one of them could infect the entire group. This terrifies me, and yet I can’t see not celebrating Christmas together; it’s our family’s most cherished holiday. I treasure the moments during Christmas Eve dinner, on Christmas morning when we wake up to discover Santa has been and has left presents for all, and later, as I watch my husband and son prepare bacon and eggs together. We’re so grateful to have our children with us Christmas morning to celebrate the joy of the season. Every year, I look forward to seeing the excitement and look of pure innocence in our grandson’s eyes as he opens his gifts. He’s getting older, and at six years old, those magical Santa visits will be left to the younger ones in due time. One must get in those moments of magic when one can. This Christmas, while the world is being ravaged by an invisible enemy, we’ll hope and pray our family will be spared. First, my husband’s cancer, now a deadly virus; you can see why I might be depressed.
What am I grateful for? I am grateful when I wake up every morning and breathe in a new day. This past year has been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, yet through it all, we have been blessed. Our family has pulled together, and our friends have shown us much compassion, love and support. We couldn’t have gotten through any of this without our children and our friends. It’s true what they say about silver linings.
To me, Christmas is about love, and I’m blessed to be surrounded by love once again this year. We’ll keep our loved ones safe and happy this Christmas by keeping our distance, washing our hands and wearing masks. We’ll also open windows to exchange the air and we’ll keep our air purifier going at full speed. With each challenge our family faces, from the cancer to the virus, we’ll find a way to manage. Being together is what makes the difference; it makes things so much easier. I am so blessed and so thankful for everyone in my life.
This is what Christmas is all about to me. Love, and the joy of life.
Photos courtesy of Martha Farley – all rights reserved