The holidays are hard for a lot of people most years – and this year in particular has been brutal. There’s an old turn of phrase, a “Hard Candy Christmas,” referring to years where the only gifts are penny candy – the old fashioned ribbon candy that you can buy this time of year. My grandmother told of years where a scoop of candy and an orange were her only gifts, but they were grateful to all be together.
But being together is not even possible this year for most of us – social distancing means no visiting, and so many have lost loved ones this year. It’s painfully against all the things we do this time of year to battle the darkness around us, to light a candle in our own hearts to get us through the worst of the winter.
I understand how hard this is for many. December 22, 1989, my grandfather passed away unexpectedly. I remember being home with my brothers, playing with dad’s Christmas train, showing my youngest brother, then 8 months old, how to make it go. I remember my cousin knocking on the front door, and saying that she was coming to stay with us for a few hours, because grandpa was dead (we didn’t know that, but I knew from the phone call I had taken earlier from grandma asking dad to come right away, that something was terribly wrong). The rest of that week involved our Christmas morning, the wake, getting my braces off, the funeral, and my 14th birthday…which I shared with my great-grandmother, who was turning 84 the week her oldest child had died.
It was a tough holiday. And so was the rest of the next year.
This year, I encourage you to reach out. Reach out to friends and family near and far – by phone or zoom or text. Make ways to reach out. Join some of our chats. Ask for help if you need it – whether that’s for things like food or just for someone to talk to.
And here’s hoping that next year, this will all be dramatically better for all of us.