I just wrapped up celebrating Christmas 2020, a holiday marked by familial Zoom calls, small gatherings and a global pandemic. I wasn’t expecting much, but while winding down with a newly gifted book on Christmas night I couldn’t help but say, “That was great.”
I’ll preface this by saying I’m lucky. My friends, family and myself are all healthy and relatively happy. Unlike millions of Americans, I’m able to pay rent this month and next, while affording a few gifts here and there.
I live in an area that is covered in snow and has been a recreator’s paradise over the holidays. And I’m well supported by a small, loving and pandemic-respecting social circle.
But, I still didn’t start the 2020 Christmas season thinking I would have such high spirits and happy feelings. I wasn’t full Grinch, but I figured that it would be unnatural to feel so naturally elated this year, but I’m so glad I was wrong.
On Christmas Eve, I frolicked in the snow with a friend who is usually across the country celebrating with her family this time of year. We ran through the wilderness all alone, taking deep breaths of clean air and sliding down hills with glee and joy.
Then, with a cup of afternoon coffee to warm me up, I logged into a family Zoom call. I’m usually the one tuning in from afar with technology, but it was a welcome change to have everyone be on the same page.
It was more intimate than being one face on a screen, passed around the party where everyone was laughing alongside each other. For the first time since moving to Alaska, I felt like I was celebrating the holidays in the same way my family back East was.
The next day, I got outside and skied, continuing my own holiday tradition of hitting the trails on Christmas Day. Luckily, this tradition went unchanged in a season of change and upheaval. Flights, parties, dinners and gatherings may have been canceled, but the outdoors isn’t.
And sprinkled throughout the Zoom calls and outdoor merrymaking, I found myself cooking seafood to hit some of the seven fishes, singing Christmas songs, playing board games and exchanging gifts. I felt childlike, eating too much pie and immediately playing with all my Christmas gifts. I haven’t taken my new earrings off yet!
I caught up with a friend over text as festivities wound down. She asked how my holiday was going.
“This may be one of my favorite Christmases,” I replied, adding that it was a “good, good couple of days.”
I was worried about how my joy would be received, knowing that her plans were strewn across the Long Island Expressway. She didn’t let that ruin her holidays, though.
“IDK if it’s been the crappy year or what,” she texted, “but I kept saying this is my favorite Christmas today too. I wish today would never end.”
And I couldn’t help but agree.
By KAT SORENSEN
For the Clarion