Advent and Christmas are a cherished part of the year for my family and me. I love decorating, baking, planning and shopping, wrapping, parties with friends… Whew, that list makes it sound so busy. And that’s a part of it. But in and around the activity of the holidays are the deeper things… the growing sacred darkness, the traditions linking me to my ancestors, the desire to delight my loved ones with special gifts, and connections with people I like and love. There is Christmas music, which plays in my house from December 1st, when the first decorations go up, to January 6th… when that genre of music is extinguished for the year with our Twelfth Night Christmas greens bonfire.

Covid-19 has come like the Grinch – before his heart “grew ten sizes”- and, just like the story of the Grinch, Covid is asking us to seek the essentials of the holiday. Perhaps Christmas doesn’t come from the outside – the Who-wuzzles and popcorn and plums – but from the inside. Perhaps, it “means just a little bit more” this year.

This year, I won’t be sharing my baked goods outside of my home, but perhaps this is the year I can try new recipes (see my piece on Jul Smäkkakor Skam in the Advent workshop kit here on the website – scroll down to where each staff person shared a holiday tradition I don’t plan to run around shopping, but am opting to purchase every gift from Something Special, deCordova Museum Shop, and other Lincoln shops. With all that saved time, I can decorate like nobody’s business! Parties may have to be outside this year… a welcome change and why not? I’ll exchange a party dress for sturdy boots and long undies. Heck, I’ll be happy in pajamas for Zoom dates with friends far and near!

Different is only as unfortunate as we say it is. This Christmas will be different… but it’s one Christmas out of 54 I will have celebrated – and, with luck, will celebrate a good many more after Covid-19 has become a story of Christmases past. Sorry to mix literary metaphors – we’re on to Dickens, now. Ah, Scrooge… the original Grinch. He certainly had a different Christmas, and was wise enough to seek the meaning and learn the lessons. This pandemic is forcing us to take a closer look and maybe there is something to learn. Though I’m not sure what that might be yet, I remain open to the lesson and hope I rise to meet the growing pains.

May your – may all our – December(s) be filled with innovation and creativity as we make this season meaningful. May the Advent themes of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love fill our hearts and homes this Christmastide.

May God bless us, everyone!

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