Christmas has always been my favorite time of year; my mom always decorates the house so beautifully you would think you where living in Santa’s village. If you close your eyes and concentrate hard, you would be able to smell butter tarts and other baked goodies that just come out of the oven. On Christmas Eve my whole family would come over and have a great big feast, Grandpa would insist on carving the turkey while grandma would criticize him for taking so long. After stuffing ourselves to the point of explosion we would all sit around the tree and open gifts, My Grandpa would always go first, if the gift came with a card we would all had to listen while he read it out loud, you would think being a teenager I would find that incredibly boring but its one thing that I look forward to the most, I would love it if my grandparents lived forever but sadly that is not the case.
This year there will be no family get togethers, Christmas dinner will consist of my mom, dad, baby sister Lillian and I. My mom decorated the house just like she always had, trying to bring normalcy to these crazy uncertain times. I will get to see my grandparents but I wouldn’t be able to hug them or sit with my grandma by the fire while she tells me stories of her childhood and Lillian played with all the empty boxes, I never understood the fascination babies had with boxes. I will be sitting in front of a computer screen spending most of the time telling my grandparent where the speaker button is. My aunts and uncles are going to be joining us as well, just because the whole world is on lock down is not going to prevent our family from getting together to celebrate Christmas. We mailed our Christmas gifts months ago, that way that where there for Christmas Eve and just last year and the year before that my grandfather was going to open his gifts first, every gift I sent him had a hallmark card attached to them I knew everyone was going to hate me but I didn’t care. After Presents my uncle Robert is going to read the night before Christmas, normally he would stand in front the Christmas tree and read the book using some weird voice that the little kids found hysterically funny, now instead of watching the young ones fight for a good spot in front of the tree, they will be squeezing in front of a tiny computer screen or if they are lucky they will be able to hook there computer up to the television set. That is what my father is doing now as we speak, instead of putting up the out door lights and decorating the front yard he has spent the last few days cursing at the his computer because it will not sync with the T.V and being how Christmas eve is tomorrow night his frustration is building, if he gets any angrier that little vain in his forehead if going to rupture. I have offered my help a couple of times but he keeps saying that it’s a matter of pride and he will not be out smarted by electronics, the fact that I am getting the highest mark in my computer class doesn’t make any difference.
“Bailey.” My dad bellowed from the family room
I ran to see what he needed, that was a get in here right now ton and when I got to my dad, he was in a mess of computer cables.
“You’re a smart girl, can you please help me.”
“First of all you don’t need all of this if you would just listen to me in the first place and use my iPad, face time me and I will show you what I mean.”
The Ipad rang a few times before I answered it, my dad just glared at me I could tell the look on his face that he was in no mood to fool around.
“Okay now that I have answered, an option to sync to your television will pop up all you have to do is push it a just like that I am now on the big screen.”
My dad stared at me in disbelief, “Your telling me that after days of fighting with this f…. I mean stupid thing all I had to do was a push a button,”
“I have been trying to tell you that all along, this his how I did all my Zoom meetings with my class as soon as the schools shut down, the picture is much better on my computer. I walked all my classmates through it so they could do the same thing as well. I wasn’t kidding when I told you that I got the highest mark in my class in computer sciences.”
My mom came to see how are progress was going I told her that dad had finally came to his senses and asked me for help. She just laughed and shook her head; “Good after dinner you two can hang the lights and but up the lawn decorations.
“I would love to mom, but you know how work and other things, just because the schools are closed doesn’t mean I can slack on my schoolwork.”
“Nice try kiddo, you and I both know you are on Christmas vacation. Now was up it’s time for dinner.” I just hung my head stormed out of the family room.
After dinner I helped my mom clear the table and then joined my dad in the garage once again, he was fighting with lights. He looked up at me and half smiled, “You know maybe I should have put these things up months ago like your mother asked me too put I really saw no point, to tell you the truth I still don’t.”
“Mom is just trying to bring joy and Christmas cheer to the house, this is when it’s the most important. Christmas is hard enough without the added stress, this year has been hard on mom. Grandma and Grandpa live like three thousand miles away, we only get to see them three times a year one of those times being Christmas and now its being taken away from her, this whole time I have been thinking about how much this sucks for me I never really thought how hard this was going to be for her.”
I felt myself starting to tear up, my dad reached over and tussled my hair then reached over and pulled me in for a hug.
“How did get so lucky, we have two beautiful smart daughters, now lets get this done or we will be out here all night. By the time we finished with the lights and the little Christmas village my fingers where frozen. My mom had the fireplace going and hot chocolate for us when we got into the house, Lillian who refused to go to bed had now fallen asleep underneath the kitchen table. I offered to take her up to bed so that my mom could finally relax, my baby sister could be a handful, I bought my mom a fit bit last year for Christmas, lets just say that if it was possible to max out steps she would have done it may times over. Of course, she was wide awake again as soon as I laid her in her bed, after five stories and two songs and the bedtime penguin dance, she was fast asleep, and my hot chocolate was ice cold. I hope I wasn’t that exhausting when I was her age.
“You where gone along time, your father and where about to send a search party.” My mom laughed while she got up to reheat my hot chocolate, I followed her into the kitchen to see if I could help with anything else.
“I really don’t know how you do this everyday, as soon as her head hit the pillow, she was wide awake.
“You where the exactly the same way.” My mom handed me the hot chocolate. “You my dear was ten times worse than your little sister. I would have to sleep with you in the recliner because you would not sleep other wise. Now drink up so you can get your butt to bed. “She kissed my forehead and went back into the family room. I sat down at the kitchen table thinking of how different Christmas eve was going to be, I must admit that I was feeling deeply sorry for myself. I know I said that I was not going to let the fact that the whole world was lock down effect my Christmas but now that Christmas Eve is tomorrow my heart was feeling heavy. I rinsed my cup and put it in the dishwasher then headed upstairs. I smiled at my parents as I headed up the stairs, they where under so much stress the last thing that I wanted was for them to worry about me.
That night I tossed and turned thinking about everything that was going on in the world and when the sun peaked through my window, I had no urge to get out of bed. Finally, the smell of bacon and eggs drug me out of bed, once again I tried hide how I was feeling but it was written all over my face. When my parents asked me, what was wrong I quickly changed the subject.
“What time is everyone going to call?” I helped Lillian into highchair and within minutes she had her breakfast all over the place. I envied my sister; she had no care in the world and just like that all the horrible feeling that I had the night before melted away.
“Grandma and Grandpa want us to call them once we get a hold of your aunt and uncle, so sometime after dinner.”
“We may need to bath the baby before then I think she got more breakfast on herself then in her mouth.”
My mom peeked from the kitchen and laughed. “Do you mind kiddo? It would give a chance to finish up here and you and your sister can open a couple presents.” I scooped up Lillian and took her upstairs, it took me a good half hour to get all the food out of her hair. My parents where waiting for us, my dad giggled when he had noticed that I had changed my clothes. One would think that I had crawled into the tub with her, my clothes and the floor had more water then the tub. She had a blast and that is all that matters. My parents let my sister and open one small gift and one large one, I was over the moon with excitement when I unwrapped my brand-new lap top this thing had everything including the kitchen sink. Once again Lillian would rather play with the empty boxes rather then her grifts.
“You know dad we can hook my computer up the television, if you don’t want to use my Ipad.”
“You know what honey given the fact that we have very little time to make this work, lets just leave it as it is, speaking of which I talked to your aunt on the phone and they want to do a test run before we have to do this tonight.”
Of course everything went off without a hitch and that night after dinner we all gathered around the Television, even though I wasn’t able to reach out and touch my grandparents or aunts and uncles it was just nice to see there faces. I will never forget how my little sisters and my cousins faces lit up as my uncle read The Night before Christmas in the voice of Donald duck, after we had opened gifts my grandparents had to go because it was well after midnight where they where. I felt the tears fall as they said their good byes and then my grandpa said something that I will never forget he said; “Don’t cry my dear, I want you know just because your grandma and I can’t hold you in our arms doesn’t mean we don’t hold you in our heart. All this madness will not go on forever but until it is all over, we will continue to send our love over video chat.