Due to COVID-19, this is my second Christmas away from my closest family. Last year, I got to spend the holiday with my Portuguese family – and it was amazing. They welcomed me with open arms and I was very happy to be born into such a loving family. This year, however, I am not going to spend Christmas eve with any relatives.
My initial plan was to travel back to Brazil and have a nice Christmas with my loved ones, but a pandemic got in between and ruined it. It would be too risky to do insist because not only my parents would be put at risk, I’d also be put at risk. On the Portuguese side of the family, traveling to the north would be too risky for me and also for my great-aunt, whom I adore and want to see safe from all of this madness. On the other hand, traveling to Faro to visit my cousin would demand me to take public transportation and put both of us at risk. It’s very confusing wanting to keep our traditions in a pandemic year.
All of this got me thinking about many people that got used to being away from home on nights like these. For some of them, it’s just a night like any other and they don’t really feel affected by the distance. For others, it’s too overwhelming and unbearable not to celebrate Christmas as we used to. I have to say I never cared as much about Christmas as I care about New Year’s eve – and they are only one week apart, so I am still stuck in indignation. Except that, for this year, it doesn’t really feel like Christmas.
I lost some relatives to COVID (four in just a month), which is weird enough to make me look at all of these past months differently. I keep wondering if this is a night of celebration or a night of grief. So many brilliant people have passed away due to our lack of commitment to our own health, we are kept from our loved ones in fear of damaging them, we have had so many losses in 2020 than we could ever imagine… Not to mention the absurd governments of some countries that keep pushing their people on unhealthy habits and neglecting the whole situation. Are we in the position of celebrating anything?
I refuse to say we’re not. I feel terrible for who and what we have lost, it will never be replaced. But I’d rather think that we have better celebrate the ones we still have by our side – which means taking care of them by not gathering ourselves and putting people at risk. It’s an effort we just have to take. Christmas can be related to whatever your beliefs lie on, it could be religion, it could be family, it could be exchanging gifts, or even that Secret Santa thing I absolutely hate. We had enough to sorrow in 2020. I will be spending Christmas eve with one or two friends and I have decided that it’s time to give another meaning to this night. At least for now.
Maybe next year I will get to have this special night with both my parents, hopefully enjoying the Brazilian summer with a caipirinha in one hand and my mother’s amazing food to serve the night well.
Merry Christmas! 🙂