A COVID Christmas

December 24, 2020

   I asked Carol if she was feeling the Christmas spirit this year, and she just shook her head. I really didn’t have to ask, though. She’s already had to miss all her grandchildren’s holiday shows, because there weren’t any. She’s not going to see her beautifully wrapped gifts torn apart by small, impatient hands. And she’s not going to hear either her house or either of her daughters’ filled with excited voices all talking at once. She basically has only me this pandemic year, which is like having a string of lights with a bulb out.

   I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing two regular Madigan Christmases. They begin with her hosting a Christmas Eve dinner for twelve. The last two featured me serving as executive chef, where I introduced curious palates to the cuisine from my native land, New Orleans. There was enough starch being passed around to open a Chinese laundry. They’ll eat healthier this year, but I think they’ll miss the bread pudding. There won’t be a white elephant party either, so regifting the Yatzee I got last year will have to wait till next year.

Needless to say, there is a big hole in Carol’s Christmas this year, and the only thing she has to fill it with is another big hole. Me.

   A Madigan Christmas day is my kind of day in that there is no dressing up. At all. Special matching pajamas are procured for everyone, and they are de rigueur for the entire day and evening. Mimosas, Bailey’s, spiked eggnog and whisky are served with the cinnamon rolls and breakfast tacos. Carol’s is a blended Jewish and Irish family, so booze and food are everflowing throughout the day.

   After the gift exchange, there is general lounging around, while participants track their bets on the five game NBA pool. Then comes a break, when everybody goes home for a nap before reconvening for dinner. Needless to say, there is a big hole in Carol’s Christmas this year, and the only thing she has to fill it with is another big hole. Me.

   I’m doing my part. I’ve introduced her to the college football bowl season, including the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and the Myrtle Beach Bowl (sadly the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl was canceled due to Covid-19). And I’ve suggested Bad Santa as a holiday movie.

   Still, Carol managed sufficient spirit to put up a tree and decorate the exterior of our cozy love nest. It marks the first time I’ve lived in a home decorated for the holidays, and I must say it…seems like a lot of work.

   So, although Christmas will be a quiet, subdued affair for Carol this year, it’s promising to be up there among my historical bests. Most of my childhood memories are of the holiday season being so dysfunctional that Festivus would have been seen as rehabilitative. Not all, of course, but you only need a couple to darken the memories, right?

   Thanks to the Madigan family, though, I’ve got to experience Christmases that have shown me what all the fuss is about when it comes to the holidays. This year I’m beginning to feel what Carol is missing. It has me already looking foward to a vaccinated holiday season next year.

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