A Holly Jolly COVID Christmas!

Pressing The Pause Button On Christmas Tradition

Like most people, we approached Christmas 2020 with cautious optimism. We made the difficult, yet safe decision to not see family and friends, and to try and find other ways to enjoy the season. Like many of you that are reading this, this was not a popular decision to make. For one, I think Christmas Eve is one of Erin’s mom’s favorite nights of the year. Erin, Callie, Six Pack, and myself spend the night at her house on Christmas Eve and have Christmas morning breakfast together at her home. There’s usually even a few gifts exchanged, but only if the dogs had been on the “nice” list!

Merry “Mischiefmas” from Six and Ace

A rare occurrence during our break. Six and Ace not barking or arguing.

There was also the Christmas Eve beer tasting that Erin’s cousins would organize which we looked forward to as well. Granted, there was always a couple lagers that were pretty cringe-worthy, but the event as a whole is entertaining, to say the least.

Unfortunately, there was no contact with Erin’s family this year, unless you count Erin’s mom dropping off Erin’s carrot cake at the front door and leaving. The carrot cake is a Christmas staple for Erin. Every year, her mother spends an exorbitant amount of time preparing this thing just for Erin and her brother. Take it from someone who’s not a huge fan of carrot cake…….it’s amazing! So instead of a beer tasting with Erin’s twenty or so cousins, we settled for egg nog and hot toddies. Which, of course, contributed to a very merry hangover!

We replaced Erin’s cousin’s beer tasting with Scrabble and Christmas cocktails with the dogs.

As for my family, I made a point to visit my Grandmothers and Aunt Mary back in August (distance rules and masks were in effect). And at that time, I tried to communicate to them that Erin and I would most likely not be able to see them this Thanksgiving or Christmas. But I couldn’t help myself, so on Christmas Eve morning, when I ventured to the west side of South Bend to pick up some polish sausage, I stopped at each of their houses to drop off a card and some flowers. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment, because it was more difficult than I thought it would be to just “drop” and run. But all three were happy to see me, especially my Grandma J. Who, unknowing to me, had been watching me walk up to her front door to drop off the flowers. So just as I was about to call her to tell her about her doorstep surprise, she swings open the door in her bathrobe and mask! Keep in mind, it was 15 degrees Christmas Eve morning in South Bend. It brought a smile to my face – the fact that she knew how diligent Erin and I treat the COVID rules, and that she was willing to sit on the porch in the freezing cold just to chat with me safely. Obviously I didn’t let her do that and I ended up calling her later that day to catch up.

It Wouldn’t Be Christmas Without A 6 a.m. Wake Up And Some Disappointment

In the grand scheme of things, Erin and I have made it though the pandemic so far in good shape. And we tried to keep that in mind when the following two occurrences happened to us during our Christmas vacation. The first was out of our hands and a lesson in getting our hopes up. You see, for the past seven or so months we’ve been providing monthly respite foster care for a ten year old boy that we’ve been referring to as E. There was no need for us to watch E in December; however, we made plans to see him the weekend before Christmas. We were pretty excited for the visit. Although a little challenging at times, he’s been a big reason why COVID hasn’t gotten the best of us mentally. So naturally, we bought him some Christmas presents and made arrangements for him to spend that Saturday night with us. I won’t bore you with details, because there weren’t any. With no explanation, we didn’t get to see him. It was a little tough emotionally to work through at first, but our biggest concern was his safety. We are happy to say, that at the time of writing this post, we have set a date to see him next month and he was never in any danger. We still have the presents to give him and look forward to spending time with him, but being ghosted on the first day of our Christmas vacation kind of set a tone.

Erin and I decided to take the entire week of Christmas off of work and stay at our South Bend house a few days before the E ghosting. We had done this before and had a blast! But there were a couple of things different with this year’s vacation. Namely, a global pandemic…..and a wildcard in our foster greyhound Ace! If you weren’t aware, Ace is the foster we had since August with a slew of behavioral issues and a Jekyll and Hyde personality that included a very affectionate side, and a side that liked to bite me! She’s had mixed responses from having gone up to South Bend several times before. But the week of Christmas vacation, Ace was in full on grinch mode.

It could’ve been the change in scenery or the disruption to her routine. Either way, Ace wasn’t thrilled about spending Christmas in the Bend.

Ace had intermittent periods of refusing to eat, being territorial, snapping at everyone and everything, and barking at everyone and everything. I think her holiday spirit had been replaced with the sprit of Cujo!

If COVID Was A Christmas Special

One of my all time favorite Christmas traditions that even Ace couldn’t spoil, is the annual viewing of the animated Christmas special VHS my mother recorded in 1989. It’s a blockbuster! It has classics like Frosty, Rudolph, and Charlie Brown. It also contains more obscure specials like A Mickey Christmas Carol, Simpsons Christmas and A Garfield Christmas – all of which, have the original 1989 commercials included in the recordings. But the strangest, last recording on the tape and the one that I find comparable to COVID, is the He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special. Much like COVID, no matter how hard we tried to fast forward through it, it just kept on going! The storyline makes absolutely no sense and although the commercials (taped off of the USA network) slightly redeem the special, clocking in at one hour is a reminder of why I hate this Christmas special as much as I do the COVID virus!

I think like much of 2020, we took Christmas for what it was. A hot mess! There were bright spots. Santa got Erin a gift she’d been wanting for quite some time. We discovered our smart TV has the Baywatch channel and a channel that plays old episodes of the Hills and Real World.

Nothing says the holidays like Frosty, Baywatch, and Six Pack!

We spent a lot of time coloring and just talking to one another.

Festive vibes

You get one guess on who colored this masterpiece!

And we’ve made the decision that next time we take a vacation, you can bet we’re not taking our work computers with us!




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