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Will It Even Feel Like Christmas if I Can’t Sit With My Family in Total Silence While My Father Watches TV and Drinks Bourbon?

The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically altered how we celebrate special occasions with our loved ones and now that’s it’s impacted me personally, I’m no longer able to take it in stride. See, the Christmas season is very dear to my family. Rife with traditions. But as the big day approaches, I can’t shake this feeling that it won’t truly be Christmas if I can’t experience those traditions. Particularly, the time-honored tradition of standing stoically in my parent’s kitchen while my father drinks a bottle of Jim Beam in front of the TV.

Every year was the same, beautiful ritual. My brother sets up his model train set around the Christmas tree, my mom spends all day whipping up her famous deviled egg casserole, and my father sits in his recliner in a pair of greasy sweatpants and emotionlessly watches “A Christmas Carol” on a constant loop. Technology is nice and all, but it just doesn’t feel the same over a Zoom chat. Same with all the funerals.

I have so many fond memories from my childhood. Staring down at my parents living room carpet in complete silence, waiting to hear the clinking of ice when my dad shook his empty tumbler indicating he’s ready for another “Big Jimmy.” It was like a game for us. We would run so fast to get him more economy brand whiskey before the commercials were over. It was such a rush. Like skydiving. Or the feeling that something terrible would happen to us if we didn’t immediately do what he said.

Every year, my whole family still gathers on Christmas day to sit down at our dining room table and lovingly avoid eye contact while listening to the faint sound of ESPN playing on the old Panasonic in the den. And now with the worsening coronavirus pandemic, as well as my dad’s escalating liver disease, I’m worried I may never be able to experience that wholesome Hallmark moment again.

But I suppose this is what needs to be done if we want to keep our loved ones safe. With any luck, this will all be over by next Christmas and I’ll be able to bathe in the warmth of my beloved family’s collective thousand-yard stare, while the festive scent of barrel-aged corn whiskey wafts through the air. It’s nights like these the song “Silent Night” is about.