Craving the touchstones of Christmas tradition

“I almost lost my Christmas spirit, thanks to Covid-19.”

Louise McEwan.

Louise McEwan.

By Louise McEwan

I almost lost my Christmas spirit, thanks to Covid-19. The reality of no family dinners, no gathering with friends, and no church services to attend threatened to dampened my enthusiasm for the holiday season.

Not wanting to be Scrooge, I took action. One grey, dreary day in early December, I tromped through the yard, cutting cedar, boxwood and holly. Inside, with carols playing in the background, I created fresh arrangements to bring some holiday spirit to my heart and home.

A few days later, I pulled out the seasonal decorations and adorned the rooms. All that remained to be done was the tree.

And that’s when I almost completely lost my indomitable Christmas spirit.

We had waited too long; there were no trees to be had.

Granted, the other decorations in the house are lovely; it’s the tree, though, that is the pièce de résistance. It’s the tree that brings sparkle to the room. It’s the tree that lights the darkness of the night. It’s the tree that proclaims “Christmas”.

Christmas without a tree is anathema. There had to be a tree available somewhere.

After quizzing my husband about his search for a tree, I had to accept the harsh reality. There would be no tree to bring that fresh, fragrant, festive look into the house. I needed an alternate plan.

I bought a gorgeous poinsettia; ironically, the jardiniere in which it sits says “Fresh cut Christmas trees”. It’s a little whimsy in the face of disappointment.

I cut more boughs and got to work. We will make do with other greenery. Enhanced with mini lights for sparkle, boughs and branches will stand in for the fresh cut tree.

It’s an unfortunate year to be without this major symbolic element of the season. Covid-19 has contributed to increased levels of anxiety, stress and despondency. The traditions and rituals of the festive season have a part to play in creating a sense of normalcy and in stabilizing mood during this time of pandemic.

I twigged to this around the middle of November when I noticed Christmas lights and outdoor decorations festooning the neighbourhood. Covid-19 had accelerated the phenomena of Christmas creep, that tendency to start all things Christmas earlier each year.

For someone who typically waits until mid-December to decorate, this year’s Christmas creep seemed excessive at first. But the sparkling lights and outdoor arrangements quickly won me over. There was light in the darkness, joy in the gloom, and promise in the air.

I think we are craving the touchstones of Christmas traditions – those symbols that we associate with “holly, jolly”, family, friends and faith – more than ever because Covid-19 restrictions and protocols have robbed us of much that we hold dear. The virus has interrupted much that gives meaning to our everyday existence.

This Christmas will be different from all other Christmases of my experience. No tree, no family gatherings, no church services. But one thing remains the same; the joy of Christmas flutters in the air. Despite a few hiccups, my Christmas spirit is alive and well.

Louise McEwan is a freelance writer with degrees in English and Theology. Contact her at mcewan.lou@gmail.com.

ChristmasCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

The Coldest Night of the Year event will raise money for the local Getting to Home program. Walk virtually or in-person on Feb. 20 – there’s a place for everyone! Photo: Trail Times
Be part of Coldest Night of the Year; be part of a solution for Trail

Proceeds from the Feb. 20 fundraiser will be directed into Getting to Home

KBFR
Driver taken to hospital after hitting ditch near Genelle

Kootenay Boundary first responders attend single vehicle accident, RCMP investigate

Ron Clarke has his MBA and is owner of JBS Business Services in Trail, providing accounting and tax services.
COVID-19: How do you spell retirement?

Here’s a resolution some business owners may have made a few weeks ago, “I aspire to retire.”

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Sunnybank in Oliver. (Google Maps)
Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver reports third COVID-19 death

The facility currently has an outbreak with 35 cases attached to it

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Most Read