This post is also available in: French
Did you see the press conference? Christmas is cancelled.
This was the email awaiting me on my computer, while thousands of variations of this same message were being shared, pretty much across the province.
Shock, disappointment, frustration, and anger spread like a gust of powdery snow in a storm. After the hope that “normal” celebrations would be possible, many felt cheated. Others felt like the sacrifice and effort of recent months had all been for nothing. Yet others openly talked about their intention to flout the rules and celebrate the holidays with their loved ones, as they had planned to do before the December 3 announcement.
In moments like these, it can be tempting to stifle the voices that see the glass as half-empty, to ignore darker feelings and look at the bright side. But sometimes, you need to look at what is missing from the glass before you can consider what is left in it.
Like the first snowflakes that foretell a white Christmas, which we eagerly await every year, traditional holiday celebrations are an opportunity for most to enjoy some downtime, shared with our loved ones. After months of lockdown restrictions, we miss our family and friends, and it is only natural to be disappointed that holidays beyond our domestic bubble will not be possible. Just as we experience any other type of mourning (a loved one, a pet, plans for the future, a job, etc.), it is healthy to identify and recognize what is generating the emotion we are feeling: strong ties to our loved ones, the opportunity to enjoy a few special evenings, being out of the house and away from routine, attachment to traditions and rituals, a chance to reconnect with our inner child, etc.
Like in the well-known story of Dr. Seuss, it is easy for isolation and bitterness to take hold. This was how it was for the Grinch, turning him into a spiteful creature. And as in any Christmas story worth its salt, a miracle occurred that let him finally reconnect with others and find peace. The miracle came in the form of Cindy Lou. What can she teach us about a happy ending to our own story? Perhaps that true Christmas joy isn’t found in turkey, gifts, and family gatherings? And even though the glass is half-empty, it’s not completely empty.
The past few months have been exhausting but have also honed our creativity. We have become aware of our individual and collective resilience, and we will have to draw from that source yet again.
You now have the advantage of knowing the tools at your disposal:
- comforting activities (savouring a coffee and a good book on Christmas morning)
- special treats (celebrating New Year’s Eve in the living room in a fort made of blankets?)
- going back to your roots (the family turkey recipe and a childhood movie)
- a helping hand from technology (toasting and unwrapping gifts via Zoom, across Québec or even around the world).
As for me, you will find me in my prettiest dress on Christmas Eve, even though I’m not going out. In the coming days, I will make orange marmalade that I will mail to family and friends. And on Christmas night, I will no doubt shed a tear or two, wrapped in blankets watching The Sound of Music.
And, you, how will you brighten up this unconventional Christmas?
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