The month of December has always been my favorite month of the year. It starts off with my birthday, and then it’s office holiday parties, family Christmas gatherings, Yankee Swaps with friends, Christmas Day, and it caps off with celebrating a Happy New Year.
I usually celebrate the year to come surrounded by my favorite people counting down as the ball drops – although the venues may have changed since getting married and having kids…. Then, the next day, I attend my parents’ New Years Day open house. An event they have held more than 20 years running – I truly look forward to it.
Not this year.
This year, I spent my birthday quarantining. The Christmas parties with extended family were cancelled. Our office holiday party was ‘postponed’. Yankee Swap with friends was called off. There would be no New Years Day open house.
Last year, when the cancellations started rolling in, people were eager to pivot to virtual gatherings. Some form of connection was better than nothing, and at least that felt like something to do. But now, our second winter trudging through this pandemic, and people’s enthusiasm for digital assembly has dwindled.
On New Years’ Eve, I thought it would be fun for my toddler to watch one of those pre-recorded ball drop videos before bedtime. My mom had dropped off some party hats and noise makers earlier in the day, so we were appropriately festive for the occasion. I explained to my toddler that we would watch the video and once it ended, we’d all shout ‘happy new year!’ and blow our horns.
When at first I couldn’t find a video to play, my husband said not to worry about it, because our toddler didn’t care. I snapped back at him, “It’s not for her”, and it was that moment that I realized just how sad I was about all that this month wasn’t.
I had been trying to be pragmatic about everything, logically understanding that gathering in large groups wasn’t the safe choice, especially with a newborn in tow, and with many gatherings including elderly relatives. But understanding the reasoning doesn’t take away from the feeling of disappointment.
Once I realized how much this was impacting me, I started trying to find one thing every day that felt like an acknowledgement of the season. My toddler and I still take a nightly drive around town to look for Christmas lights – and we probably will until the last festive neighbor takes them down.
But if you’re feeling like this season wasn’t what you had hoped for, you’re not the only one. Here’s to hoping this is the last year of cancellations.