A Sarine Thought… or Two

PHOTO BY Molly Kendrick
PHOTO BY Molly Kendrick

Christmas 2020—YAY or YIKES?

Whew! What a year it has been, to say the least… and I mean the very least. Pandemic. Economic shut down. School shut down. Church shut down. Quarantining with our people. Masks. Stage one opening. Stage two opening. Back to stage one opening. School re-opening with a virtual option. The election of the century. Good night! I’ve never seen anything like it! It makes me wonder, can something as regular as celebrating Christmas be a valid option this year?

Well, my friends, I’m just going to go ahead and claim Christmas as a YES! YES, to seeing family, and YES, to celebrating Jesus’ birth like it’s going out of style! There will be presents and gatherings and celebrations and treats and heartburn galore! Christmas is coming and ain’t no crazy year gonna stop it! I mean, can’t all my adult friends remember the transition from your last “kid Christmas” to your first “grown-up Christmas?” It was quite a leap.

Don’t you remember how wonderful it was looking forward to Christmas as a kid, and all the excitement and anticipation? I was a child of the present hunting variety. By the time November 30 rolled around, I was already scoping out the regular hiding spots to see if Christmas booty was anywhere to be found. Many times, I was successful, but other times my clever mom beat me to the punch and already had them wrapped. While the hunt was so much fun, the element of surprise was even better.

The weeks leading up to Christmas were always a good time for my parents to get us to do the things that my brother and I were otherwise great at avoiding. You know, things like making the bed every day, unloading the dishwasher, feeding the dog without being told, not calling each other “butthead” and then throat-punching the name caller. I will admit, the atmosphere of my childhood home was never more pleasant or better smelling than it was in December.

Then there was Christmas Eve, and oh, the wonder of it all! We would go to church for the candlelight service and then have dinner with my mom’s family. Once complete, we would go back to our respective homes full and pleasantly sleepy. Sleepy, that is, until my brother and I would come in and see the tree all lit up with the gifts underneath. With just one look at those twinkly lights, it was as if a jolt of caffeine had surged through our veins. We didn’t just get our second wind, we got our second tornado. My parents would try to bribe us to get to sleep with the dangling carrot of getting to open one gift before bed. Well played, Mary and Jeff (those are my parents)… worked every time! So, we would open that one gift, strategically selected by my mom, and then we were compliant enough to be sent to our rooms. Sleep? No way! That wasn’t happening, but we agreed (most years) to staying in our rooms past 4 am. It was the longest but best night of every year. The sheer possibilities of what might be waiting for us the next morning were intoxicating! As we got older, my brother and I would sleep in a little, but I don’t think I woke up after 6 am on Christmas morning until half-way through college.

Finally, it was morning... Christmas morning! And it was always great! No matter how many presents were under the tree or in our stockings, we laughed and squealed and carried on. Once everything was unwrapped, the playing of the annual gifted Disney VHS tapes would ensue. We would watch our movies and then go to my Granny and Papa’s house for Christmas lunch and more presents. At the end of the day, we were wiped out and happy. It was pure magic.

As an adult, Christmas has taken on a different energy. It’s more of a month-long buzz of activity that always leaves you a little dizzy as you press on to the next work party, friend party, caroling party, cookie party, ornament party, school party or Christmas concert. Cookies and wassail and candy canes, oh my! As an extrovert, parties are my jam, but as I have aged, I realize the work required to be 76 different places over the course of 18 hours, somehow get Christmas cards ordered, addressed, and mailed before December 25, and get gifts for all the people.

Then, there is the traveling to see the families. We eat, laugh, love and repeat for several days. It’s wonderful. We also love spending time with our church family on Christmas Eve. There is nothing quite as special as being in a room with hundreds of people, holding candles and singing “Silent Night” to the King of Kings, to honor Him for His earthly birthday. There truly are no words to describe the peace that resides in churches on that sweet night.

But what about this year? Can we do those things? Can we sing the carols and eat the cookies from a platter? Can we go to the houses of loved ones and give gifts to people we don’t share common germs with on a regular basis? Should we?

I’m not a medical professional, but for my family, it’s a resounding YES! Yes, we can. Yes, we should! We need to do Christmas in a way that honors God and our families. If that means being cautious around our vulnerable people, let’s do it. Do we hug and laugh together? Absolutely. Do we take all the elderberry syrup, vitamin D, and zinc we can in the days leading up to it? You bet we do. Do we enter a room of worshipers to sing to the King, even though it’s indoors? Yes, we just do a Christmas head nod instead of a Christmas handshake, and we’ll tie a tiny hand sanitizer to each gift we give for good measure.

Just because 2020 Christmas may have to be tweaked, that doesn’t mean it has to be terminated. Do all the things you are able. Christmas time is here, people! Let’s celebrate like never before! 

1972—Emily and her brother, Jon Dicken pose in front of the Christmas tree.


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