Christmas is 10 days away. Yikes. Are you ready? I’ve mailed my gifts, sent my Christmas cards, and decorated the house. Now all I need to do is bake cookies and buy eggnog . . . oh wait. I don’t expect any company, so I don’t have to do that. I just have to figure out where I’ll be and with whom when I’m not singing and playing music at church.
Last Christmas, my friend Pat and I ordered a full meal from a local restaurant and spent the day together at my house. The food was so-so, but we had fun opening all the little packets and trying to figure out what everything was. Gravy? Ranch dressing? Um, some kind of vegetable? Bread pudding? No, that’s chocolate mousse. Maybe.
The day went south when my dog Annie suddenly started vomiting and couldn’t stand up. She was very ill, and I wound up driving 50 miles of mountain roads through wind and rain to the veterinary hospital in Corvallis, then sitting in my car for hours because pet owners were not allowed inside due to COVID. Not fun.
Annie spent two weeks in the hospital with Vestibular Disease, and it’s a miracle she recovered. I have asked her to please stay well this Christmas. She says she’ll try, but she’s almost 98 in people years, so no guarantees.
But back to my Christmas plans. Pat has moved to California to be near her kids. So many of my friends have done the same thing, so they won’t be alone in their old age. It makes sense. But I have no kids to move close to. If they can, my friends who are parents will spend the holidays with their children and grandchildren. Those of us without offspring can’t do that, but we do have many other choices: Celebrate with friends. Go to a restaurant. Stay home and binge-watch your favorite show. Go for a hike. Climb a mountain. Stay in bed. Do a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.
Many of you are younger than me. You may spend Christmas with your parents and your siblings. And their kids. I remember those days. When I was married to my first husband, we had to visit my parents, his parents, his sister’s in-laws, and my aunt and uncle, all in the two days of Christmas Eve and Christmas. Wherever we went, we got scolded for being late. And yes, we had to watch other people’s kids open their presents while their parents asked us when we were going to start our own family. It was crazy. But I did get a lot of presents.
It’s 2021. COVID is still here. People are gathering again but cautiously, hoping their vaccine shots will protect them. My suggestions for Christmas are the same as they are for every year. If it’s going to be horrible, don’t do the usual things, or at least be honest about why they make you feel bad. No sulking in silence. Especially be honest with your partner, who may be the reason you’re the only one without children. Try to enjoy the good parts, the hugs, food, decorations, music, and love. Many of us have been apart too long during this pandemic, so rejoice if you can be together.
Here’s a thought. I know a childless woman who takes her little dog everywhere. If it will make you feel better—and if your dog is reasonably well-behaved—take the dog. The dog will be a diversion. When things get tense, take your puppy for a walk.
Christmas is an important day for Christians celebrating the birth of Jesus, but if that’s not your jam, do whatever you want. It will all be over on Dec. 26. You can be grateful that you won’t have to listen to a child’s annoying new game that dings or sings or quacks incessantly.
At some point between Christmas Eve and Dec. 26, I will probably cry because Christmas is not what it used to be when my husband and parents were alive, and it’s not what it could be if I had children and grandchildren. It’s okay to grieve our losses. If you need to weep, let the tears fall. Then move on. Find the Christmas fudge and enjoy every bite.
Your presence here is a gift to me. Please share how you’re doing this Christmas, if you do Christmas. Tell us about the good parts and the parts that make you crazy. You have a sympathetic audience here.
Big holiday hug,
The Nomo Crones aka childless elderwomen are having another Zoom chat on Dec. 21. The topic is “Spiritual Malnutrition.” I’m not on the panel this time to make room for some new members, but I’ll be listening and commenting in the chat. I guarantee a good time. For information and what time it’s happening where you live, click bit.ly/gw-solstice.