Holiday Image

I love human perseverance.  We have an activity-based advent calendar at our house which serves two purposes:  1) it provides an opportunity for the family to do things together, which is becoming increasingly difficult as the kids (now 17, 16 and 13) grow older, and 2) it saves my waistline by keeping chocolates and other treats out of my tempted reach.  Last night’s advent activity was to take a drive through our neighbourhoods to enjoy the lights.  This activity has been a staple on the calendar for years.

So, we picked up our middle guy from work at 8pm and started meandering the residential streets of Georgetown.  It was my 13 year-old who first noticed.  “Is it just me,” he asked, “or are there way more houses lit up this year?”  And he was right.  House after house was shining brightly with multi-coloured lights, inflatables, and Christmas trees alit in the front windows.  Some people went all out.  We saw one house with all of the Peanuts gang reliving A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Another had a lawn full of lit up Santa Clauses – so many it could have been the holiday version of pink flamingos.  And some had so many lights, they could have signalled airplanes.  Our planned 30-minute jaunt, continued for over an hour.

It has been a dark year and, in my heart, I believe that more people are standing up to their stresses and brightening (literally) their mood even with the knowledge that this holiday is going to be a little different than others.  2020 marks the first time in 20 years that Trish and I are not going to be able to host our annual Christmas Open House.  It is my most favourite tradition and something I look forward to all year long.  But what is more important to me than seeing all of our friends, is doing our part to make sure that businesses like yours get to stay open as Ontario slowly rolls out the vaccine.

The kid in me wants to stamp my feet and shout “NO, NO, NO!!  I WANNA DO IT!” and consequences be damned.  That is true of the party and the fact that we are not going to see any of our family in person this year.  It sucks.  It really does.  But, like I have been doing a lot lately, I looked at it from a different perspective.  Christmas is one day.  My dad, my grandmother, Trish’s dad and stepmom and all of our aunts and uncles are in the high-risk category.  My three kids, nephews and cousin’s kids all go to school and are exposed to their classmates’ bubbles.  All of the adults work, getting exposed to their colleagues’ bubbles.  If we sacrifice this one day together, there is a much better chance that we can enjoy many more of them down the road with the people we love.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call ourselves heroes, but one could argue that our sacrifice is potentially saving lives and, once again, stopping the spread so your businesses stay open.

Instead of lamenting that our holidays are ruined, Trish and I are thinking of ways to make them fun and keep some of the traditions alive.  The annual open house is not only a great way to connect with 60-100 of our friends, it is a toy drive.  The “price” to attend the get together is to bring a new, unwrapped toy that we donate to the Salvation Army in town.  Trish didn’t want “no party” to mean no toys, so after she spent the whole day on Sunday making Christmas cookies, she posted on Facebook that people could arrange a porch drop where they could exchange an unwrapped toy for an assortment of cookies!  I immediately went out and bought five toys…

On Sunday night, we also made a cookie tin of fresh cookies, drove them to a friend’s house, rang the doorbell and left.  The “Cookie Fairy” plans on visiting several other houses between now and Christmas.  These types of activities bring us as much joy as they bring others.  They keep us connected to family and friends without risking anyone’s health.  I know that I am very lucky to be surrounded by incredible people all of the time – the staff at Central Counties, who make me look great every day, a close circle of friends and family who would drop everything to help, and a brilliant wife and three boys who make me grow and evolve for the better – and I am grateful for them all.  I don’t need to see those outside of my immediate family and bubble to let them know they are special to me.  In fact, staying away from them proves that they are.

I wish you, your friends and family the very best over this holiday season.  I hope that it is full of Zoom calls, socially distanced outdoor visits, and doing some great things that warm your heart and others.  Take time for yourself as much as you take time for those you love.  2021 is just around the corner and it really will be a new, brighter year than the one we are leaving.

And speaking of brighter, today’s advent activity is to go to Canadian Tire for more outdoor lights!!!

Cheers to you,

Chuck