Our family’s Christmas is different this year. Which has got to be the understatement of the year for everyone’s 2020 holiday season. A worldwide pandemic will do that.
We thankfully haven’t lost anyone close to us to Covid, but as we approach 330,000 deaths in the United States, there are many people grieving for loved ones who’ve died this year. Plus, having just come through Thanksgiving, we’ve seen a spike in cases of people infected with Covid, meaning there are lots of sick people and exhausted medical professionals this season.
As we deal with these sobering realities and attempt to keep our distance, we have altered our Christmas traditions. There will be no extended family potluck party that keeps all of us stuffed with Swedish meatballs, lefse, fruit soup, Swedish almond cake, and other goodies. Our whole family is comprised of excellent cooks, so this is a big thing to have to give up. We’ll also miss the life updates and conversations and seeing how the youngest family members are growing and changing.
There will be no gathering of our nuclear family, Hubby, the children and their partners, and I, either. This is normally a very chill gathering involving food and gifts and conversation.
While we’ll be eschewing the sharing of a meal with our kids, we are continuing with the gift-giving tradition with the help of the U.S. Postal Service.
Packages have been arriving on our doorstep for several weeks, with sneaky partnerships formed between family members to keep gifts a secret.
Rather than wait for Christmas to open gifts, we’ve done away with that, mostly because we gave our children and their partners cash or gift cards and we wanted them to be able to spend them before Christmas.
We did reserve one gift for each to open on Christmas Eve. I decided I wanted to take part in the Icelandic Christmas Book Flood (Jólabókaflóðið), wherein people give books and chocolate as gifts and everyone opens them on Christmas Eve and spends the day in bed reading and eating chocolate. For this book lover, that sounds like the best holiday tradition ever! So we’ve mailed out books and chocolate for everyone with instructions to open them Christmas Eve. (The surprise will be in what books and chocolate we found for them.)
We have scheduled two Zoom meetings for family, one on Christmas Eve for our nuclear family, and one on Christmas Day for extended family members who are free that day. During the Christmas Eve meeting, we’ll share the gifts we got each other, along with the Book Flood gifts. (This is where we’ll see how well we know our children by how excited they are for their books and chocolate.)
Meanwhile, last weekend, Erik and I opened our gifts. The kids and I got Erik one big gift, a digital recording studio kit that will allow him to record the songs he composes on guitar so that he doesn’t forget them.
I got a passel of gifts from Erik and the kids. Erik concentrated on getting me ALL the CDs on my wish list. Which is pretty much all the CDs in the world, I think (if 13 CDs is all the CDs in the world). These came in separate packages over a few weeks, so whenever I went to the mailbox, if a package had Erik’s name on it, I set it aside rather than ripping it open. (I know how to keep other people’s secrets from myself.)
This is the pile he handed me last weekend:
While I’ve been a fan of Duran Duran since high school and a more recent fan of Muse, both of which are represented in this pile, most of the CDs are actually for INXS, a band that I never thought of myself as a proper fan of, but apparently I am.
A day after getting these all ripped onto my computer so I could put them on my phone, I went to the mailbox and found two more CDs, Duran Duran’s “Greatest” and Muse’s “The 2nd Law.”
(You might be asking why I would order CDs in order to rip them onto my computer so I can listen to them in a digital format. Fair question. Because I’m Gen X and grew up with vinyl records, cassette tapes, and compact discs and I don’t trust digital formats to be available when I want them. Give me a physical object, please.)
My kids got me gifts that feed my other passions: An ergonomic keyboard for writing (using it now for this blog post), the Murder of Crows tarot deck, and a bunch of books, causing a Christmas Book Flood in our house.
I’m awaiting one more gift from my oldest son and his partner: A game based on quilting, which I am antsy to play (no pressure, Eldest Son!).
None of these gifts was super expensive or out-of-the-ordinary … books, music, cards, keyboard, game … but they make me feel rich beyond compare.
Thank you, family! I’m simply delighted!
Do you exchange gifts for any of the winter holidays? What is your favorite gift of 2020?