Christmas Lost? 2020
Larry and I were together in the minivan running an errand for my parents one evening recently, here in our home state of Minnesota. In the darkness of a winter evening we turned a corner and found ourselves on an unfamiliar, winding road. The curves and swerves were lined with lawns and white picket fences leading up to newer homes all decorated to-the-nines with Christmas lights. Merry Santa’s and yard-sized manger scenes; angels appearing on high and houses lined with icicle lights ensconced by festively lit evergreen trees. I surveyed the arrangements and their brazen disregard for the pandemic, blatantly ignoring the somber mood at the grocery store; their cheerfulness somehow ignorant of the many gatherings and sing-alongs that will not occur this Christmas.
As we passed through the uncanny spectacle, I thought: So, this is where Christmas went. Larry and I craned our necks to catch the name on a street sign that would guide us out of this labyrinth of festive-ness. I said to Larry, “It’s like the land of Christmas lost.”
“It appears that way,” he said. The sensation of being dropped into the set of a movie, if only for a moment, fell away as we found a road we recognized. The Twilight Zone morphed into relief. We were not lost.
I’ve looked back at 2020 and found some highlights that would never, ever, have been imaginable in any other year, or movie set…or reality. Here they are:
Collective humanity. In March when we were put on lockdown in California—something I believe none of us had never experienced in our lives—we lie in bed at night and everything felt surreal. Our noisy beach town had gone quiet. It felt like 9/11 when the airplanes stopped thundering through the skies and we were all hurting. In March, everyone you knew and everyone you didn’t know was experiencing the same thing. Germs knew no borders. We were all in this together.
A planetary deep breath. I remember a drone video from the early days of the lockdown when no one was allowed to walk the beach and no boats were allowed out of port and no surfers on the waves. Wide open spaces completely unoccupied by humans. The air cleared. The planet took a deep breath. This made me very happy for Mother Earth. It reminded me of the biblical “year of Jubilee” when all debts were forgiven. I’d like to see a planetary Jubilee at regular intervals and every seven years is not nearly soon enough.
An introvert’s paradise. Work from home? Don’t have to encounter any humans today? What bliss is this?
Time to write a book that deeply touched a handful (I’m being cynical) of people. The book project stretched me like almost nothing else I’ve ever done. Then all ads to market the book were shut down by the safeguards put in place to prevent election malfeasance and shenanigans. I haven’t sold 100 books (yet), but I know a couple of people who were moved by my mini-memoir; it gave them new direction and revelation. That made me very happy. Maybe one day the book will catch fire. One can hope. But even if it never does, I’ve come to realize it was worth every minute.
Reflection on family connection. What really matters when nothing really matters? Connection. Larry and I hit the road for 8 days in October to clear ourselves of any possible concern of corona virus contamination and moved in with our two daughters and their families in Minnesota. Best decision ever. Long conversations and good connections ensued with all of our children, and even some extended family members, friends and neighbors. Larry was able to connect with his twin brother and they have been working together ever since we arrived.
A new lens on an old location. Speaking of Minnesota, two years ago I couldn’t wait to escape from the crazy weather patterns and the lack of a pedestrian lifestyle. Distance really does make the heart grow fonder.
The importance of home; a place where we feel safe when we are fragile. Coming to Minnesota gave Larry and I time to help my parents prepare their home for winter. Little did we know they would also encounter tragedy when my mom fell and needed hospitalization. She is improving day by day; but I learned a lot about why home is important to elders. I’m grateful for these lessons.
I never failed to fail. I failed again and again this year as I fell into a lack of routine, a lack of good habits and a lack of recognizing that life is now, it’s not coming. A better future is not forthcoming, because this is it. I need to remind myself of this every five minutes. There may be a land of Christmas lost—a place that ignores reality or tries to shine in spite of it, but nearing the end of the dumpster fire that is 2020—I am not as lost. I found a little bit more of myself in retrospect.
This year has been all about “forgiving reality for what it is” (Richard Rohr). Forgiveness is one of the best survival tools known to mankind. And a central theme for why we celebrate the birth of Jesus who introduced a level of forgiveness previously unfathomable. Love your enemies? Bless those who curse you? Never has a message been more lost than during this year’s election. And while the warring between political opposites deeply troubles my spirit, I can only hope my small contribution in writing the book will bring some healing of the divide.
On December 18th, I had the honor of being interviewed along with Benjamin Gross (via Zoom) for a local cable access show called Access to Democracy about the book. This was the first time Benjamin and I have been interviewed together. This production will always be a treasure to me; to be on the screen with Benjamin, and also to be interviewed by a Twin Cities icon and octogenarian: Alan Miller. Alan asked Benjamin how he was able to get along with conservatives; what was his secret; because Alan himself was unable to do it. Benjamin said, “You start by finding things you both agree on…”
I couldn’t agree, more. I’ll let you know when it airs and is uploaded to YouTube.
How are you doing? What are your thoughts now that the year is coming to a close?
Drop me a line, anytime.
Yours on the journey,
JuliePosted on: December 20, 2020, by : JulieEthan