My parents, my sister’s family, and my family gathered together for Christmas Eve. Which we always do. But we did it in our driveway. Which we never do.
I’m not going to pretend like it was “pure magic,” even with the rapid accumulation of an inch or two of snow while we were together. The truth is that it was awkward and uncomfortable. It’s difficult to sip a hot drink, open a present, hold a conversation, practice standard precautions against the spread of COVID-19, and keep an umbrella over one’s head all at the same time! God bless my family, though. They were troopers. We all managed to maintain positive attitudes and make the most of circumstances.
We kept warm with a combination of electric blankets, two fire pits, one propane heater, and layers of clothing.
We kept our germs to ourselves, following the advice of health experts with a combination of fresh air, staying six feet apart from each other for most of the time, and wearing coordinated masks (gifted to the family by my mother) over our mouths and noses for the times when we did find ourselves in closer proximity.
And we kept Christmas traditions alive, with a reading from the second chapter of Luke… the opening of gifts, one at a time, from youngest to oldest… and exchanging the elements of our traditional Swedish Meatball feast to be enjoyed back at home later in the evening.
In the evening, my parents and I reconvened on Zoom for a video conference with my brothers (one living in Minnesota, one living in Texas). It was good to check in with each other and know that we’re all doing fine, through this unusual year and this unusual holiday season.
The whole Christmas Eve experience was unique. Memorable, too, I expect. But I’m not going to over-romanticize it. It wiped me out. Still, I’m glad we persevered. And I’m hopeful that we won’t have to do it again next year.