Friday, January 1, 2021

Not a Christmas Letter

Not a Christmas Letter

Just about every year since my wife Linda and I got married back in 1975, I’ve written a Christmas Letter. In it I’d tell all our friends and family members who weren’t living close to us about what Linda and I had been doing that past year.  I’d talk about the vacations we’d taken and the charming and wonderful things our daughter Lillian and granddaughter Lucy do.  I’d tell people too about my writing projects and how they were going, the poems and essays and novels I’d published and the novels I was working on.  

And I’d always find a little bit of space in these Christmas Letters to talk about the funny things that had happened to us.  I’d talk about trying to fix a pipe in a sink that just wouldn’t stay fixed, or I’d go on and on about the day we found our lost cat Valley, but it didn’t turn out to be our cat Valley at all.  

I always liked writing these Christmas Letters because they were a way of thinking back on the experiences of the past year and enjoying them all over again.

I didn’t write a Christmas Letter this year, and I bet you know why.

This is the year I don’t want to remember.  

It’s this COVID pandemic with its 340,000 deaths here in the US and 1.8 million deaths worldwide.  The pandemic kept me from writing the Christmas Letter.

This pandemic only started officially here in the United States at the beginning of February when the Trump Administration announced a nationwide public health emergency, but it feels like it’s been here longer than that.  It feels like it started ten years ago or maybe twenty years ago.  It feels like it’s always been here since I was a kid riding my bicycle down Division Street.  Sometimes, it even feels like all my good and happy memories from my life way before the pandemic have been colored gray and squeezed tight by the pandemic.  

I know that this isn’t really true.  The pandemic with all its disappointments and frustrations and painful changes and illnesses and sufferings and deaths hasn’t always been here.  It just feels that way as I sit in my home and think about all the life that I and everybody else in the world today has missed this year.  It feels that way as I think about the family members and friends I haven’t seen this last year. It feels that way as I watch the news every morning and see reports about the difficulties the medical professionals are having distributing the COVID vaccine.  It feels that way as I read about President Trump’s endless whining about how he hasn’t lost the election.  It feels like that as I watch the people I love struggle to maintain some cheer in the face of all this.

Sure, I know it will get better.  After every apocalyptic pandemic in mankind’s history, there was always a revival of life and love and humanity.  

I just want to know when.

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My latest column for the Dziennik Zwiazkowy, the oldest Polish newspaper in America.


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