I’m tired from this.
COVID, I mean. I’m tired of it, too, don’t get me wrong, but I am also tired from it. Things I should be able to do on autopilot, like take the Green Line downtown, or walk to Whole Foods and Petco, all require presence and focus now. Is my mask on right? Am I staying distant? Did someone cough? Don’t breathe. Don’t touch your face. What did I come here for, again? If this is what the Enlightened mean about staying in the present, they can f—— have the present. This is exhausting.
I think I’m mostly grouchy because I love Christmastime, and we are making the best of it but there’s stuff we’re just not going to get. We gave up on Thanksgiving. Just announced to the family that we were going to “observe” Thanksgiving 2020 on May 27, 2021 and treated the day itself like a Thursday off. We’ll get everyone together in May, when we will be able to eat inside or outside, so no matter what the CDC says we can all hang out. My wife already ordered an inflatable yard turkey for the occasion.
I’m trying to make the best of this. I put up lights for the first time in years. Twinkling blue and white lights and a wreath and 10 sidewalk lights in the style of old-fashioned outdoor bulbs but that looked much, much larger on Amazon. I had expected waist height, though, which they are only if one is an elf. Still, it’s festive to have the little things down there to light the way for passing Pomeranians and Chihuahuas to have a pee and feel tall.
Speaking of dog-walking, I have, while walking a dear friend of mine, noticed something about the various nativity mangers we pass: While most (but not all) subscribe to the convention of leaving the baby Jesus in the green room until Christmas morning, they are all set up so the people and livestock are already peering with interest at the empty cradle here in early December. Shouldn’t they be doing manger things? And why are Mary and Joseph there already? The presence of Mary, come to think of it, raises several other questions given that she is not visibly uncomfortable in these dioramas despite the imminence of a new baby. I have been around several women in the last few weeks of pregnancy, and they do not generally look quite so serene.
I’m really trying to make the best of it, though. We’ve got a bunch of show tickets this year, all for variations on The Nutcracker — Russian! Balanchine! Hip-hop! Burlesque! — and we have done multiple drive-through light displays. I mulled some cider with chai. We’ll probably put up the tree at some point so I can spend the next few weeks yelling at the cats. I saw Elf at a pop-up drive-in in Pilsen, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is ticketed for this weekend. I’ll probably receive a virtual present or two, and maybe bake some cookies. Gotta make the best of it, you know?
Still, we — all of us, including you — are all just so, so tired of making the best of it. I would like not to have to make quite so much best of anything. I would like the best of it to be made already, possibly for pickup. Ideally I might have some best of it made by someone else and brought to me.
Maybe I’ll ask Santa.
Alan Brouilette is a columnist for our sister publication, the Forest Park Review.