If one were to gauge things by Instagram and Twitter posts, a high percentage of people who celebrate Christmas spent today doing this …
To which I say: Welcome to my last 48 Christmases.
I mean no offense. And I’m certainly not happy that COVID wrecked so many family gatherings; so many joyful feasts; so many annual traditions of leaving cookies for Santa; of waking up and running down the steps to open presents; of grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins basking in the glow of a magnificently outfitted tree. I actually hate everything about it, and mourn in particular for older relatives who—instead of embracing the love of a unique holiday—sit lonely and depressed at home, heating up Trader Joe’s pizza or ordering out for Chinese.
But, just so it’s noted, what you’re experiencing is (in many ways) what we Jews deal with every Christmas.
For most of my life Christmas was the least-favorite day of the year. I felt like the guy locked inside a shopping mall after closing time. Or the guy who misses the state fair because I had to go tile shopping with Mom. I knew all the kids up and down Emerald Lane were unwrapping presents and gorging on candy canes and chocolate Santas, while I was staring at my toes or lying in bed, gazing up at my Rickey Henderson poster. If Dec. 24 and Dec. 26 were 24-hour days, Dec. 25 was—at the bare minimum—500 hours of hell. I’d look at my clock. Look again. And again. And again.
“Let’s all take a family walk,” Dad would suggest.
“Why don’t we play Monopoly?” Mom would suggest.
“Why don’t we do nothing—like every Christmas,” I’d counter, sadly.
So I’d do nothing.
I don’t want this to happen again. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever again. The year 2020 blows, and the lack of a fruitful Christmas blows, too.
All I ask is that, in 2021, when you’re back at Grandma’s house, eating her homemade bread pudding and listening to some Mariah Carey jingle, think back a year earlier, and think of Jeff, your friendly neighborhood Jew.
I’ll be home.