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Obligatory Holiday Rumination

Even though the holiday season is now considered long past, I have found myself continuing to ruminate on celebrations of Christmas, et al. during a pandemic. This is something that literally no one alive (that I am aware of) has experienced before: an entire holiday season that those of us who remain conscientious in this time of covid more or less missed out on.

I assume that every holiday that isn’t a direct marker of something in time (a New Year, the day of one’s birth, etc.) starts as what we now refer to as a “Hallmark Holiday”. Someone somewhere didn’t think Christmas was all that important when Christmas first started to become the holiday we know today, even if that was hundreds of years ago. And I’m not even remotely discussing the religious aspects to these holidays. So often those aspects don’t matter long term; think of any major religious holiday in the year and you will likely find an aspect (if not the whole holiday) has shifted more secular. So, for instance, when believing in Santa became a commonality amongst children, the religious holiday was dwarfed by a fat home invader in a red suit and at least some people thought it was a fad.

During this pandemic, my focus (and that of many others) has been on reframing living spaces that we never intended to use for working from home full time. Personally, in all this time I have yet to figure out a satisfactory solution to four of five residents needing day-long workspaces. Every attempt has been a hodgepodge that leaves something to be desired for someone. Each time, too, in my house we inevitably bump up against our minimalist tendencies that push us toward a desire to remove things from our lives, not over burden and further complicate the equation with the trappings of our work lives.

So you can imagine the thing that bugged me this holiday season was the staying power of commercialism, consumerism, and excess in a time where we all need anything but that. Normally, these things are muted to my senses due to the more important aspects that engender the season, such as time with family and friends, parties, and travel; these aspects normally then gain some additional interest for the kids due to a sprinkling of gifts and time off from their schoolwork. All but the gatherings were still in play this year and what that often meant for the kids was a refocus on the tangible outcomes.

There was more of a focus than normal in our family on the presents than the holiday, be it religious or otherwise. And since the travel has been nonexistent, the family gatherings and parties were all virtual. In the time of covid that means it could have been any other day, even as one ended with a countdown.