This time of year we are typically inundated with the exceedingly tired phrase “surviving the holidays.” A normal year this would be shared facetiously, a musing that family is awkward or difficult. This year it’s meant literally. COVID-19 has provided a new meaning for those trying to maintain their traditions. It’s not so much the drunk uncle will kill us with his pro-Trump tirade, but he may with anti-mask lifestyle.
I caught myself recently struck by a Christmas song. That happens most years in all honesty. I typically find a new Christmas song that gives me goosebumps and remains the anthem for that season. This year was a surprise. This year was a classic. Frank Sinatra’s version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas left me spinning. “Through the years, we all will be together, if the fates allow.” I have never had to think of those lyrics before. I assume them as a reference to family you only see on holidays.
The song is so much more than that to me now. It was written by Hugh Martin while living in my old Birmingham neighborhood of Southside. I won’t make it home to Birmingham this year. I’ll miss my family. I’ll miss my friends. I won’t get to visit the Garage, or Saturn, or Dave’s Pub for trivia night. Martin wrote the song for Judy Garland and the film Meet me in St. Louis, which will now be on my watchlist this holiday season.
I’ll have my first Christmas away from home this year. My wife, dog, and cat may see a person or two during the holiday break. That pales in the dozens of family members at my Aunt’s house on the 22nd, or my Meemaw’s birthday party on the 23rd, or my in-laws’ for Christmas Eve, or back to my Meemaw’s for Christmas day. This year will be a little Christmas. We’ll have to make the yuletide gay and pray that we can put our troubles out of sight.
November saw over 4 million new cases of the Coronavirus in the US. October was the next highest at 1.9 million. Experts expect the post-Thanksgiving numbers to absolutely skyrocket. Which is weird, because it feels like we are already there. Prior to the lull in Thanksgiving reporting delays, we averaged over 1,500 deaths per day. It is hard to imagine that number not growing at a similar rate to the overall cases we’ve seen.
Quarantine has been hard. The virus news is exciting and hopeful. The virus deniers are still out in force. (Which is a bit odd, isn’t it? The election is over, I thought it would all disappear?! Why can’t they?) All those distractions are leading people to become less strict in their protections. We all need to reset our perspective and remain committed to social distancing, mask wearing, and refusing to travel. Thanksgiving will have produced shocking new numbers. Have yourself a merry LITTLE Christmas and keep your family healthy for 2021.