The holidays are a magical time of year no matter if you are young or young at heart. My parents always tried to make Christmas extraspecial for me and my siblings on the Cottonwood Valley Dairy Farm. Mom spent weeks preparing for our family celebration, baking our favorite spritz, sugar and gingerbread cookies, crafting hand-dipped chocolates and wrapping and hiding presents that would eventually appear under the tree. Dad decked our large, wrap-around front porch with multicolored lights and would milk the cows early Christmas morning so five squealing kids didn't have to wait until mid-day to open gifts.
Exchanging presents was just one small part of the festivities. It was also a time for family and friends near and far to gather, embrace and enjoy one another's company. Laughter filled our home, mixed with the aromas of turkey and other treats cooking in the oven. Life was good.
In hindsight, my parents always cherished the holidays because it gave them time to recharge after a year of challenges on the farm. They celebrated making it through another growing season. Crops stored safely in the bin. Contented cows in the barn. Life was good.
Christmas this year will look vastly different for many families. COVID-19, the Ebenezer Scrooge of 2020, will keep loved ones apart out of concern for the health and safety of others. FaceTime will replace face-to-face gatherings. Isolation will be especially difficult for grandparents, my 91-year-old mom included, who is in an assisted-living facility under lockdown because an employee tested positive for COVID. At the top of her Christmas list is to see her kids and grandkids, and to hug them tight. Life stinks.
It's easy to be frustrated when the simple pleasures of everyday life are taken away. That's especially true during the holidays, a time normally filled with joy and lasting memories. Like my parents, we all need to refresh and regroup after experiencing a year unlike any other. We're exhausted from COVID. Exhausted from the discord it has helped fuel throughout our society.
But, the spirit of Christmas also makes me optimistic that better days are ahead. My optimism glowed brighter after watching a recent interview with country music legend Dolly Parton. While promoting her new Christmas album, she talked about how her life had been affected by COVID. Like most of us, she was feeling as if the world had been turned upside down.
So, Parton did what she does best. She wrote a song that reflects hope in a postpandemic world, while providing reassurance of when families and friends can reunite, and we can return to our normal daily lives.
We've been brought to our knees
We've been so ill at ease
There are no guarantees
But you know life goes on
This too shall pass away
Bring new and different days
We need to change our ways
And right our wrongs
Let's open up our hearts
And let the whole world in
Let's try to make amends
When life is good again
... We'll make it through this long dark night
Darkness fades when faced with light
But everything's gonna be alright
When life is good again
Take a few minutes to reflect on these heartfelt lyrics as you enjoy the holidays. May they bring you comfort, courage and calm as we look to 2021—when life is good again.
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