All I want for Christmas…

It is almost the end of 2020. A year I will never forget. The year that life as I once knew it, changed forever. And I am not just talking about the pandemic. This year I decided to change everything about my life. After 20 years of marriage I got a divorce, moved to a new city, and started a new job.

I made these changes just a few months before the pandemic started. I often wonder what my life would be like if I had waited to make the decision to transfer with my employer down to Manhattan Beach from Portland Oregon. I doubt the opportunity would have been available once the pandemic started. So, I would most likely still be in Portland, still be married, still be trying to live a life that I had outgrown and that made me feel sad and anxious.

I do believe that the universe helped me make that decision at the exact right time. And I am glad I listened and took the chance. So, not only am I divorced and living in a new city but due to the pandemic so much more about my lifestyle has changed. I have not been on a plane this entire year. I had plans to go to New York City in April and I was going to take my daughter to Paris in May to celebrate her college graduation. Even at the end of March I was still hopeful that these trips might happen. I remember texting with a friend in Paris asking if she thought it was possible to visit, and still having hope that she would say yes.

But obviously, it was impossible to travel to Paris in May. So, I called the airlines and cancelled our much anticipated Paris trip, but I rescheduled our New York City trip for Christmas time. Surely, things would be back to normal by then. I had no doubt. I reserved an AirBNB by NYU and told my New York friends that I would be seeing them for the holidays.

But as October rolled around it became apparent that I would have to cancel that trip too. And here we are still in lockdown in December, and in Los Angeles the coronavirus cases are the worst they have ever been. The hospitals are at their limit, and I feel so bad for everyone who is sick, and everyone taking care of the sick.

It is so bad here that I started to wonder if my daughter was going to be able to make the trip from Seattle WA where she lives, to come see me in Los Angeles for Christmas. I was already feeling overwhelmed with the second lockdown that was ordered right after Thanksgiving, and the thought of not being able to see her sent me into full on panic mode.

So, I feel very fortunate that after taking all the precautions of covid testing, staying in quarantine, and signing the attestation that LAX requires, she arrived last Monday. I have only seen her 3 brief times this year, which has been so hard.

But despite all of the grim news, and the second lockdown this was one of the best Christmas’s I have had in a long time. It was one of the best because I appreciated it so much more. I felt so happy as my daughter and I took our walk along the beach on Christmas morning. Everyone that we walked passed wished us a Merry Christmas, and I could feel their smile under their mask and I wondered if they too felt more appreciation this year.

And I had so much joy in my heart because the things I used to take for granted meant so much to me this year. I used to take for granted the fact that I would be able to see my daughter and spend time with her. It is only a 2 1/2 hour flight from Seattle to Los Angeles and when I moved here it never even entered my mind that she wouldn’t be able to jump on a plane at a moment’s notice to come see me, and vice versa.

This year has made the moments that I see my daughter that much more special. Also, this year has taught me not to take our basic health and welfare for granted. I am sure that as life gets back to normal I will probably not be so grateful as I am now. I will start living my life without recognizing how blessed and fortunate I am. But I know that there will always be a part of me that won’t forget this time. That won’t forget my anxiety at the thought of not being able to see my daughter for Christmas.

I have spent a lot of time this year trying to figure out what I want the rest of my life to look like. And when I used to think about it, it always felt like it had to be a big ambitious plan of writing a book, getting famous as an artist, or something along those lines. Now when I think about what I want my life to look like, it is a more simple picture. I just want to maintain my health, and I want my daughter to stay healthy too. I want us to be able to work at our jobs and pay our way, and save for the future. I want my friends to be healthy, and be safe and taken care of.

It is not the vision of my life that I had in my mind when I first moved here but I have learned this year that it is really the most important. Because without the health and welfare of myself and those I love, what does all the rest matter?

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