My family had to alter our Christmas celebration this year. Normally, up to thirty three family members converge on Mom and Dad’s house.
However, due to Covid-19 and the threat to exposure, we staggered the get together over three days. In addition, nine family members chose to stay home due to Covid travel advisories. As a result, this year we finally complied with local fire ordinances regarding the number of occupants in a building.
Because of the diminished attendance, putting our Christmas celebration together moved more smoothly than normal. While “tranquil” fails to aptly describe this year’s celebration, “less than mob rule,” would adequately explain this year’s Christmas. And, even though our process slightly deviated from the norm, the order of the celebration remained the same.
To begin, food plays an integral role in our family celebrations. Thirty or so people require a lot of food. So, each family sect in the Hardin bloc prepares a component of the grand meal and brings their dish to Mom and Dad’s house for final preparations. Although in reduced quantities, that part of the feast remained the same this year.
In past years, the scurry to finish the meal resulted in a beehive of activity in a kitchen that is best suited for two cooks, tops. Debates around oven temperatures, who uses the microwave first and which prep cook has access to the cutting board added to the chaos.
This year, since we arranged for each family to come in shifts, we minimized the kitchen turmoil to a minor frenzy. Corn pudding didn’t have to share oven space with mashed potatoes. Chopping celery didn’t need to compete with slicing the turkey.
After the food is ready, we need to serve everybody in an orderly fashion. Because of the numbers, we normally serve buffet style. Mom’s ideal puts the kids first, adults second. However, it usually breaks down to who is closest to their favorite food.
While always peaceful, our buffet most often resembles two octopi battling over a blue crab.
This year, we served each dish on the table and passed them around family style.
Nonetheless, this method also deteriorated because we only had one humongous bowl of mashed potatoes to go with two bowls of gravy.
As for serving, in past dinners Mom broke out the fancy china to create a joyful yet formal atmosphere. However, since everybody came on different days this year, Mom decided to eliminate dish washing time. So, she opted for festive Frosty the Snowman paper plates.
After the meal, the family moves into the living room for the gift exchange. Once again, the numbers add to the excitement as well as the bedlam.
Buying gifts for each each family member is impractical for economic and storage reasons. Thirty three times thirty three equals zero balance and no space under the tree. So, we draw names to decide which sibling, nephew, niece or cousin to give a gift to. Then, when it’s time to exchange gifts, we have a strict dispatch schedule to determine who gives which gift to who. An arrangement that inevitably falls apart.
Mom attempts to keep an orderly gift distribution. She screams names, demands to know where the whereabouts of givers/receivers. But, in all the hoopla, a giver doesn’t hear their name because they’re in the kitchen eating Rice Krispy treats. A receiver is in the hall posting on eBay.
In the meantime, kids and adults alike are stripping gift wrap from box. As such, the gift exchange devolves into a typhoon of shredding wrapping paper.
This year, however, the logistics were much more manageable.
With the reduced numbers, Mom was able to expedite the gift distribution with minimal storm damage. And eBay uploads.
After the gift exchange, it’s photo time. The custom is for the whole family to assemble for one pic en masse. Then, we break off into family units for group pics.
All the other family members then shoot photos paparazzi style and we e-mail the best ones to Mom. Then we text the most humiliating pics to the respective family members as blackmail, mafia style.
Mom decided on a different approach this year. She lined up each family against the dining room wall and took family mug shots. “Now, turn right.”
After Mom has taken all the photos, we prioritize the leftovers. We sort out what’s edible for the next two days and what’s destined for the landfill . Then, the pre-departure dish triage begins. Everybody sorts through the Tupperware containers and aluminum baking trays, separating the washable from the disposable. This year’s triage required only half the time, leaving plenty of time for the lingering exit.
We chit chat and make small talk about trivial matters, transitioning to the ride home. Then, we fade out to our own places, murmuring about long days ahead while thanking Mom for another fantastic Christmas. This exit has and will remain unchanged.
Covid may have altered the way we celebrate Christmas this year. Despite the necessary and worrisome precautions, we adapted and even lessened the usual mobocracy. We got together and shared some delicious food. We exchanged gifts and took the obligatory photos. Even though we experienced some aberrations to our Holiday routine, it wasn’t too radical of a departure.
3 thoughts on “My Family’s Covid Christmas”
Sounds like a lovely time! Thanks for sharing 🙂
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It was a lovely time indeed, Phoebe! Thanks for reading!😃
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That sounds like an amazing time with family!😊💕
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