Written by Kate Fitscher
With all of the obstacles COVID-19 has thrown at us this year, Christmas was supposed to be the one day to relax and celebrate like normal. Unfortunately, the virus had a different plan.
For this entire year, my family has been extremely cautious. From turning down invitations to hang out with friends, to restraining from hugging my 82-year-old grandparents, it seems I did everything in my power to avoid catching the virus. Just when I thought I was in the clear for a normal Christmas, COVID came crashing in.
With family members flying into town for the holiday, everyone took precautions to assure it would be safe to spend it with my grandparents. On Christmas Eve, before heading over to their house, I tested positive, which seemed impossible. My one friend said to me "You are the only person I know that has been isolating this entire year, and the only person I know that has gotten it. How does that make sense?" It doesn't. I felt the same way. I had all year to catch the virus so why did I have to get it on Christmas Eve? Now this may seem like a depressing situation for me, but let me first explain my grandmother.
Coming from an extremely Italian family, it is a tradition to celebrate Christmas by having a big feast the night before. Since it is said to be "wrong" to eat meat on Christmas Eve, centuries ago Italians began the "Feast of the Seven Fishes". So on Christmas Eve every year, my mother's whole side of the family goes to my grandparents house where we indulge in seafood. My grandparents spend months collecting the entrées, since some are rare and difficult to find in Buffalo grocery stores. Our seven fish include escargot, smelt, clams, shrimp, muscles, scallops, and the delicacy, eel. Yes, I understand many of these are not fish but mollusks -- Feast of the Seven Fishes is just the traditional name.
So when we had to break the news to my grandmother that we would not be able to come over that night for the feast, she was extremely disappointed. With the virus coming so unexpectedly and family members in town that we see rarely, we had to work fast to come up with an alternative plan. The best we could do to all be together is drive to my grandparents house, masked up, and stand in their opened garage for an hour.
Christmas had been canceled. Just my parents and I for the entire day was a lonely feeling since we usually host at my house, but we compromised. We did our gift exchange via Zoom, watched Christmas movies, and ate cookies all day. Honestly the best present I got were mild symptoms. With all of the headlining COVID-19 stories on the news, it was quite terrifying to test positive and I expected the worst. Fortunately, it has not been too bad for me, and I am grateful to at least be with my parents to make the most of Christmas.
What we can learn from 2020 is just when you think it is getting better, it's not. Let's hope 2021 will be our year. Hopefully by the next holiday, everything will be back to normal and we can celebrate like we did in 2019. Unfortunately for me, the next holiday is New Years Eve....and I am stuck in quarantine until January 7th. The only thing I'll be kissing at midnight is 2020 goodbye!