Christmas Away from Family in this Pandemic

It’s not my first Christmas away from family and friends but it feels different because I did not necessarily choose to be away from them. It feels like the choice is being foisted on me because like many, I am not keen on flying for hours, then quarantining there and coming back here to quarantine again. There is only so much time off.

Wouldn’t you know that our winter break was reduced, to only a week this year, since some public schools here did not have online classes, for two months, while school was closed. This is a whole different topic…I digress.

Christmas feels very muted for me this year. I am basically tired and want to be inside, all by myself curled up with my kindle reading like mad. It is loaded and ready to go. It is quite lovely to be a homebody in these times. I will be with a friend for Christmas day though and we will be at home cooking, eating and making merry. I have a Jamaican fruit cake on deck, some sorrel that I made, from a bag of dried ones someone gifted me a while ago. I was so excited to find some rum here to nice it up. I will also be making some stewed chicken, grilled salmon, a big fresh veggie salad and rice and peas Jamaican style. We will eat and celebrate the day away. In this way, Christmas away from family isn’t too bad if you spend it with other loved ones.

Today a student came over and gave me this lovely card.

Just the very thought she had to go off and get this for me and her message was just so touching. I have been oh so exhausted recently what with marking tests, writing reports and doing recommendations for students applying abroad. Her gesture reminded me how a small gift can have a big impact. It really helped me to feel appreciated in this far away land, at this time away from family and friends. I also loved that she listened and remembered today was my last day for the term. Fun fact the last day of school for the term is December 25th. This is not a public holiday in Japan. Even after more than a decade here I can’t get used to this.

Being away from family this Christmas is a sacrifice many of us will make. Of course, we want to do what we can to protect them, so we will gaman (hang in there) for the time being. Thankfully, we can do lots of virtual meet ups and even have meals together and play games and such. It is making many of us more intentional about spending time differently with family and friends during this time. I for sure am reminded of the simple act of going home for Christmas, that I have taken for granted.

It is my hope that everyone will be able to connect with others even if they live alone. We should all make the effort and plan ahead as we make the best of Christmas amidst the 2020 pandemic. Have a “happy jolly Christmas!”

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