This past year has been a lot. There is nothing profound I can say here that hasn’t been said already, am-I-right? I hit a wall with COVID in early December. Christmas is my favorite thing in the whole world. I love ALL things Christmas. If I’m feeling down, even in July, I will listen to Christmas music. I love decorating, I love shopping – I even offer to shop for others, I love shopping with my mom and friends, I love wrapping, I love Christmas cards, I love our traditions. The bustle of the season energizes me like very few things do. If I could take the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas off each year, I totally would, just so I can revel every single day in the magic that is Christmas.
Christmas in 2020? Not so much. When I realized I wouldn’t be able to see my family on Christmas for the first time in all of my 44 years – I was done. The bustle of shopping weekend after weekend was replaced by feverish online shopping and tracking down shipments – which I hated. I decided not to send cards – which made me feel like a failure. The magic fizzled. Even our Christmas tree started drooping early-on, reflecting my bad attitude, and dropping ornaments like it was tired of holding them up.
To make matters worse, since we share custody of our kids, it wasn’t our year for Christmas. So not only was the bustle gone, and the magic was gone, and time with my family was gone – our girls were gone.
I have never been so ready for a new year as I was for 2021. I know I’m not alone in this. I started the year as bright-eyed as I could be coming out of this disastrous year ready to turn it all around and move on. And then January 6th happened.
I’m really really good at keeping myself off social media. I even deserted Instagram this past summer – I’m sure I’ll go back eventually but not yet. I haven’t been active on Facebook in years. And I look at Twitter only during big world events and/or if I’m watching something I know a million others will be tweeting about. Because let’s be clear – the funniest humans on the planet are on Twitter. I don’t even watch the news. I read the news, I listen to NPR if things are going on, and that’s about it.
But you guys. I was watching the election certification (because I’m a political science nerd at heart) and it quickly turned to live coverage of the insurrection and I just could not stop. Because I could not believe what I was seeing. For days I got sucked in and was refreshing Twitter every 42 seconds and looking at CBS News on my laptop, and listening to news in the car, and reading article after article. Each day I felt worse and worse. About the world, about my perceived inability to do anything about it, about the fact that there are just so many things wrong. And – obviously – my constant looking at news and Twitter did nothing for me. Every article had information that was more depressing than the last.
Awhile back, I was super smart and I took this past Friday as vacation knowing I had Monday off for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day off. A four day weekend. Then I filled it with really fun things. A date with two friends I haven’t seen in ages to see a movie and grab drinks, a pedicure, skiing, a date with other friends, and using points at my salon to get a free facial. By the time Friday rolled around my brain was swimming in disbelief and disdain for where we are as a country. But I put jeans on (winning!), and makeup, and met my girlfriends to see a movie.
Because restaurants just re-opened, everything around the theater was booked when we tried to find reservations after the movie. But theaters now have bars and serve appetizers, so we sat down at a high top and ended up staying for hours. Laughing, swearing, being too loud (we were the only ones there so it didn’t matter), freaking out to each other about the world, talking about our kids, jobs, lives stuck at home. I drove home listening to music I hadn’t listened to in ages, singing at the top of my lungs, and realized I felt really happy.
Yesterday, my husband and I went to dinner close to where I grew up. Then we got ice cream at Sebastian Joe’s, a shop I’ve gone to since I was a kid. And it was beyond lovely.
This morning I met one girlfriend to snowshoe, then met another for lunch and shopping, then another met us for drinks. Where, once again, we laughed, swore, talked too loud, freaked out about the world, talked kids, work, and life stuck at home. And I drove home listening to loud music and singing at the top of my lungs.
When I walked into this space I’ve barely left for the past nine months I felt whole again. I felt refreshed. I felt sane. I felt pre-pandemic, pre-election, pre-no-Christmas, and pre-insurrection. I felt like myself.
The strangest thing about being home almost all time, with our families, and ourselves…constantly…is that it somehow feels like we get separated from who we really are. Logically, it seems like being alone in our own space would bring us closer to who we are. But in fact, we end up second guessing ourselves, at odds with the people around us (due to sheer proximity and time spent together), and wanting to tear the walls down of the space we’ve been inhabiting nonstop for months on end.
Being out in the world however, seeing our friends, our people, that is what brings us back to life. That is what creates magic. It makes us more confident. It makes us remember a bit of normalcy. Even with a mask, and maintaining social distancing, being with others reminds us of who we are in relation to the world. We remember that, hey maybe I do have some power. Hey maybe I can do something to better the world. Hey maybe, just maybe, I don’t need to look at Twitter morning until night.
It’s been so hard to get out into the world. But I have to remember how important it is for my brain and soul to just get out of the house and see the people who really see and know me. That’s what will bring the magic back, even if it’s little by little, and that is what will make 2021 so much better than 2020.