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A quiet Christmas

     No hustle and bustle at the mall this December. No frantic shoppers reaching for the last pair of Santa pajamas. Only the quiet tapping of the keys telling Walmart or Target or Amazon what you want delivered in time to be wrapped and set under the tree, or mailed to those far away.

     What tree? How many are skipping the tree with its merry decorations this year because no one can come to see it? Hopefully, not many. The tree, the gifts and the carols remind us of a time when life was more normal.

     This December has been unusually quiet for the month before Christmas. More time to think of Christmases past and family and friends that we miss seeing. Family and friends that we took for granted in the years before the virus cut us off. Quiet times, sitting outside watching the sky with its changing cloud formations and the friendly plants surrounding the house. Time to reflect.

     I know. What else is there to do? A phone call to a friend—it helps to hear them and share frustrations and hopefully some good news of happening in our families. More Christmas cards than usual sent out to let all those we can't gather with know we didn't forget them. An evening drive to take in the merrily-lit homes with gigantic blow-up Santas and Frostys and now and then, a manger with the Holy Family to remind us what it's all about.

     The twinkling lights lift our spirits, remind us that Christmas comes around every year, no matter what danged virus invades the hustle and bustle of our usually busy lives. Although, I have to admit, it's a bit depressing to drive around in the daytime and see all those deflated figures covering the lawns. Deflated, like us. Except they're only waiting a few hours for the night that will lift them, while we wait seemingly forever for the end to this thing that crashed into our everyday lives without warning.

     I find myself appreciating nature more these days. I mean, what else is there to appreciate? Kidding—sort of. I'm more aware of the cloud formations and the way they are so different from day to day. I don't like those days when it's almost dark when you get up and then stays gray all day. Not what we need. I noticed the night sky is blacker and I can see—vaguely—more stars than usual, so that's good.

     As I walk around the yard, the wildlife—hah!—the WILD? life—scuttles away, across the block wall. Fat lizards scramble under the nearest hedge as I approach. They must hear me coming. The doves that drink from our pool in the late afternoon hang around until I'm almost at their feet before they swoop away, flapping their wings. I have all the time in the world to watch all this—and realize the wonders of nature.

     Amazon, L.L.Bean and the Vermont Country Store have brought me treasures to wrap for family I won't be able to spend Christmas Day with, so that gives me something to do. The focus this year is on giving fun things to do for presents to bring a little lightness into the days and months ahead.

     This Christmas will be a quiet one, but it will be as filled with love as it has ever been. Opening gifts in the silence of our almost empty homes, we'll miss the hugs and lively banter of past years, but next year will be better. It has to be.

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