Merriment and Masks made the Holidays by Lauren Sherman

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Merriment and Masks made the Holidays

Even though the pandemic continues, the last few months have held a few bright spots for me.

As my birthday approached, I wanted to figure out a way to celebrate with my immediate family safely. I knew that movie theaters were renting out individual theater rooms for private parties, so my husband Joe and I rented one and chose Elf from a list of older movies. I opened my gifts in the theater and after that we chose seats at least six feet apart from each other, and we wore masks when not eating.

The movie was hilarious, and everyone seemed to have a great time. As with every small get together we have lately, we did not post pictures online so they would not be misinterpreted as us not being careful.

After that I was busy with exams for a few days. For a while being at home all the time had gotten easier, especially when I had plenty of homework to do. Once the semester ended however, I quickly got bored, partly because I decided to quarantine before Christmas so I could see my family members again. I was even using curbside pickup for groceries and the store had been one of the only places I went.

I bought every gift this season online except for one. It took away from the festivity of the season to be at home so much, rather than being at stores shopping and hearing holiday music.

Every year for my entire life and before that my dad’s side of the family has hosted a Christmas Eve party with lots of guests. Not this year though. As much as I missed my family members, I was glad they were taking safety seriously.

Staying home the whole day sounded way too boring, though, so Joe and I went to my parents’ house to put luminaries along the tree lawn. When I was growing up the whole neighborhood did that and I wanted to preserve the tradition.

After a brief visit with my parents we headed to Heinen’s to pick up some holiday meal items. A winter storm had started, and it made everything look beautiful and snowy, but I worried about whether the roads would be okay the next day. 

Later, eating dinner at our kitchen table felt so bizarre. I couldn’t believe it was Christmas Eve and I wasn’t with my aunts, uncles and cousins. We made the most of it though, eating yummy food and watching a Christmas movie.

The next morning, we ate at home then went to my parents’ house to exchange gifts. Luckily the roads were pretty good.

Each person’s gifts were placed in a designated spot so we wouldn’t have to crowd together trying to find them.

Other than having masks on and not eating a meal together it felt like a normal Christmas and I was so happy about that.

Afterward we recreated a photo that we had posed for last year, but this time with masks.

Then we returned to our respective homes.

A little later we had a Zoom call with my dad’s side of the family so my 96-year-old grandma wouldn’t feel alone on Christmas. We are a talkative bunch and a retirement community staff member, dressed in an elf costume, politely explained that we had to stop talking at once or we would never be able to hear Grandma.

So, then we had to be careful about when to talk but it was so nice to see everyone, even our relatives who live out of state, that it made me wonder why we hadn’t done video calls with them on past holidays.

Usually we travel to visit my out-of-town grandma and relatives on my mom’s side for Christmas dinner, but because that was not going to happen, we had just my parents over. It was my first time hosting Christmas and it was a smaller gathering than I am used to. On the bright side we got to use the china we got for our wedding and had never opened because I only have four sets of it. We had a nice dinner from opposite ends of the table.

A week later it was New Year’s which was just Joe and me. He went to bed before midnight, but I stayed up because I couldn’t wait to say goodbye to 2020.

Within days it became clear 2021 was not going to be smooth politically, which was not a surprise.

Also, I had to decide whether it was safe to go back to dance class in person. I finally decided to go, with the idea that maybe it is safer now before the new Covid-19 variants arrive in the area.

I am counting down the days until my next class starts, because again I don’t have much to keep me busy.

I can’t wait for warmer weather and a vaccine, so maybe 2021 can be the type of year that 2020 couldn’t be.

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