Twenty-twenty has been a year of change. Covid has lasted longer than any of us wished. We learned to work at distance, learn at distance, and shop at distance. We visit with friends and family at distance. We learned to cook and bake at home out of necessity. For most, Thanksgiving was a disappointment, and now Christmas is upon us. More disappointments as we realize that the holiday guest lists are going to be severely restricted – or completely nonexistent.

Using technology, we have been able to do these things in a manner that is much different from five, ten or twenty years ago. Video technology lets us share the sights as well as the sounds at distance, but we know that it’s just not the same.

In my case, we have been married for forty-five years. Christas shopping for my wife took on a tradition very early, back in the dark ages before online shopping. A few weeks before Christmas, I would take a day or so to go out to the malls, stores and shops – list of wants and desires in my head – and find those special gifts just for her. Listening to hints over the previous year, watching for clues for things that she wanted but didn’t want to buy for herself (common situation) and finding those special things that she didn’t know that she wanted – I would compress all that into one or two days of shopping. In a word, it was amazing.

But that wasn’t all – with a carload of boxes and such, rolls of wrapping paper, ribbons and bows, Scotch tape and of course name tags, I would descend on my Mother’s house to box and wrap and tape. Mom would be impressed at my selections, and wrapping these special gifts over hot tea and laughter made it that much more special.

Then I would return home late in the day, making sure that she was off to some secluded part of the house, then unload the car and place the brightly wrapped boxes under the tree. Some were from me, some from Santa, and some were from others – such as a football-related gift from her all-time favorite player, QB Joe Montana. Of course she had to “rearrange the gifts under the tree to put the kids gifts out front.” Yea, I never really bought into that one – you don’t have to shake a box to move it.

Mom has been gone for nine years, and she was the last one. We are now the grandparents. My tradition went with her, and it is something that I dearly miss.

This past weekend would have been the one reserved for shopping, wrapping and laughing. And hot tea.

Our lists of Christmas Wishes always came from Thanksgiving Dessert Time where the kids and adults alike would list the things that they wanted for Christmas over homemade apple and pumpkin pie, home-baked cookies and Aunt Jeanne’s treasured sour cream coffee cake.

With Covid, we now create lists on Amazon, especially true this year since we didn’t have a chance for Thanksgiving Dessert Time. We click and shop online, and the only real challenge is intercepting the boxes that are dropped at the door before the expected recipient can see them. Then I wrap my gifts in silence and without hot tea. It’s just not the same.

This year is without a visit to long-distance relatives, something that we like to do and have done in the past. Northerners escaping the cold and snow for a respite in Florida, southerners chancing freezing weather for the opportunity to experience a real-live “white Christmas.” Going downtown to meet friends is risky, dining out at holiday-themed venues requires careful consideration. A trip to the Disney parks in Orlando for the festive holiday decorations is not an option. The holidays are spent at home or, if we venture out we stay in the car.

And don’t get me started on festive holiday photos with masks.

So it is time to get through this holiday season the best that we can. Vaccines are on the horizon, Covid will be a thing of memories when the holidays roll around next year. Next year we will have Thanksgiving Dessert Time. Next year we will have festive holidays with friends and families.

And next year I will revive my old holiday tradition. I will do some online shopping, but I will reserve a day or two in December to go out on my own and shop for my wife, just like back in the old days. I will patronize local business, go to downtown stores in the cities, towns and villages around us. I will then take my treasures, wrapping paper, bows, tape and name tags to my son’s house so that he and his family can marvel and laugh at my choices. And we can make some hot tea.

For me, Charlie Brown, “that is what Christmas is all about.” And I will not let it fade away.