I reckon there are two Christmases: the one we celebrate on Dec. 25, and the one that happens when something goes terribly right in our lives.
Those rare but wonderful days of pure golden joy when something has gone too right to have been anticipated, when you hoot and holler, jump up and down for joy, and run around your house or office or down the street.
Well, I know when my Christmas next year will come. I can’t tell you the day or hang out decorations or send invitations to the party, at least not yet.
But it is coming, that second Christmas, and it is going to be big, like the end of World War II or the moon landing or when the Super Bowl was won by your team.
I can just remember the end of World War II, when Hitler was defeated — Victory Europe — and the huge public celebration with lots of kissing and hugging and embracing strangers.
For me it was quite innocent and I wish it had all happened, especially the kissing, 10 years later, but you take what you can get when you can. Even at age 5, I realized this was big stuff. That day in Cape Town, I saw the handsomest sailor in the world in his dress uniform, my dad, and I celebrated his survival.
The first time I got published in an adult newspaper as a contributor, that was unscheduled Christmas, and I ran around in an intoxication of joy, as excited as it is possible to be. I thought I had scaled the ramparts and would never come down. I came down. But the celebration was fantastic, a Christmas for sure.
Sometimes it becomes us to think of Christmas past, not those of Dickens’s Scrooge, but those things that happened. Perhaps it was the day when Cupid’s arrow found its mark, and you knew your life was changed for the better when you didn’t expect it — or felt you didn’t deserve it.
This is a somber Christmas in 2020. But there will be a day of joy in the not too far-off future.
That will be when it is clear that COVID-19 will no longer be on its killing spree; when we will have had our jabs, restrained our human contact, worn our masks and celebrated Christmas in a tender but reduced way, thinking on the meaning, on the happiness we have and not what we are postponing. Likewise, New Year’s will be subdued but as anticipatory as ever.
There won’t be just one day, alas, when we ring the bells, blow horns, and hug strangers. But there will be a day sometime next year when we can believe that the wicked witch is dead, that the virus is vanquished, and that life may return to what will be a new normal but nonetheless so welcome.
I wish it were all to happen on the same day, but it won’t. However, I think a day, one day, should be designated when it is clear that COVID-19, like polio, is in the rear-view mirror.
I yearn for that day: when I can go out to dinner, when I can see the faces of the noble clerks in the supermarket, embrace those who have borne the battle, manning the ambulances, the hospitals, and the nursing homes. A day when we remember those we have lost and celebrate those we have.
I would suggest we have a new national day of remembrance: VV Day, for Victory Virus. Happy, safe holidays to you.