I noticed that Anne was looking out the window, so I popped in for a conversation. When she turned around, I could see there were tears in her eyes as she motioned me to the guest chair.
"Please wait," she said as she stepped out of the room.
When Anne returned, she had water for both of us. As she filled my glass she smiled and said,
"Did you know that it is impossible to cry and drink water at the same time?"
Then she went on, "I imagine you are wondering what brought on the tears, especially when it is so unusual for me. What is usual is for me to be calm, optimistic, and comforting, but I am not feeling it right now.
"I am anxious about people, all people. I cannot see over the horizon. And, I have hundreds of comforting hugs stored up, as we have been warned that it is not safe to get close.
"Like many people, I will not be with my family this year.
"In years gone by, family Christmas gatherings were opportunities to catch up with my siblings, nieces and nephews and my parents. Sometimes we even managed to soothe old hurts and misunderstandings; sometimes we created new ones.
"No matter what happened, there was always a story! Like the year I had to stuff the turkey in the bathroom sink because I had no kitchen sink or counter. [I know you can picture me with one arm around the body trying to shove oatmeal stuffing up the turkey's a***]. Or the year I managed to plug the garburator with sweet potato peelings. Or the year the only toilet in the house overflowed AND the oven quit when the turkey was only half-cooked ... Or the year we missed the Santa Claus parade!
"Of course, the food traditions we followed were grounding. Something that was the same, year upon year, like my mother insisting on turning out the lights so she could pour rum over the Christmas pudding and light it on fire. [The children were all fascinated by the blue flames that were only visible in a darkened room, while some of us reached for the fire extinguisher in case the paper napkins and hats caught fire.]
"You know what I wish? I wish that instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, as I was just doing, we could all focus on lifting each other up. We have options for contacting family and friends, in writing, by voice and by video. We can tell them we love them and how much they mean to us.
"I wish for everyone to be kind to each other and take comfort in gratitude; to be grateful for food of any kind on the table, a roof over your head, clothes on your body, running water, indoor plumbing, telephones, computers and Zoom, and so much more.
"I wish everyone good health, good humour and happiness in everything you do.
"Let's lift each other up! Adapt. Rebuild. And find new ways to support and encourage each other."
Please accept our virtual Christmas hug!