Christmas in the Bipolar Vortex

For my parents and grandparents, there’ve been some tough Christmases. Two world wars with food rationing meant mystery meat and no sugar for pies. All those boys leaving the country. Many not returning. There was much anxiety over the future. How would things turn out? Would we still be us, or would future generations be required to heil Hitler? Happily, my generation has been spared that anxiety.
Covid is the first real challenge we Boomers have faced. Yes, there was polio back in the fifties, but that was our parent’s problem. The sense of unreality that’s come with this virus is mostly due to our fantastic luck. We got to cruise through life worrying about ordinary things. Mortgages. Parenting. Will our favourite team make it to the finals?
It’s understandable that there’d be resentment over the arrival of a world wide pandemic. When the news first broke, I remember thinking, it’s just a flu! What’s all the fuss about? It didn’t take long for the news to sink in that smugness does not confer immunity. And sadly, there are still many who think their grade eleven biology class and some online information means they know more than scientists and health professionals about the need for masks and a vaccine. Don’t bother! they tell us. It’s all a hoax! Okay, good to know. Thank God we have you on Facebook, educating the masses.
On the one hand, I’ve never felt so grateful. Because I’ve realized that the most important thing in my life is other people. And yet, other people can drive me crazy. And don’t we all feel a little resentful that the rules apply to us? “Yes, please lock down those people over there. They’re shopping, and visiting. And partying! But I’m not, so please let me see my family at Christmas. Allow ME to break the rules, because I’ve been so very good. 
In spite of my sadness that I am not exempt from the rules, I’m grateful. We haven’t run out of toilet paper or food or electricity. I’ve certainly got time to read and watch television. I’ve been zooming a lot. I’d never even heard of zoom before the pandemic. I have coffee with friends on Whatsapp and Facetime. I own snowshoes. And use them. So, there are good things in my life. 
And yet, perhaps some of us nourish a tiny kernel of bitterness, believing this: 
1. Someone ate a wet bat and then coughed in a crowded restaurant. 2.This is a scheme by foreign agents to take down the world. 3. Donald Trump is to blame. (Well, isn’t he? Doesn’t it feel good to blame everything on him? I mean, he’s just so awful.) 4. We should have shut down our borders and isolated much sooner. 5. We shouldn’t have shut down. Save the economy! Let the weak die! 
Really, the opinions alone are enough to sink our spirits. But we don’t let them, because we can’t afford to. We need to keep our spirits up and soldier on. This is a war, dammit. Not wearing a mask and following isolation rules is like living in London during the blitz and not putting up blackout curtains. You’re basically saying to the enemy, ‘Come over here! I’ve got a live one for you!’
Most of us hoped we’d be done with this thing by the fall. All the Covid bugs around the world would high five each other on an excellent job and head off for a well deserved rest. That ain’t happening. So we will eat our Christmas dinners in twos and threes, or groups of five for those lucky people with children still living at home. We’ll buy tiny turkeys and remember to touch base with others by every means possible. We’ll sing carols along with people online. We’ll give ourselves permission to feel sad that everything isn’t perfect. And remind ourselves that it never is, really. We just miss the main ingredient of Christmas, which is other people. We’ll continue to wake up in the morning, push away the thought that it will be the same as every other day, and rejoice that this will hopefully be our last Christmas in the time of Covid. We’ll remember what Charles Dickens said in ‘A Tale of Two Cities,’ 
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
It’s us in this bipolar vortex. And when it comes to an end, there’ll be dancing in the streets. At least, there will be in Flin Flon, Manitoba, because that’s just the way we roll. Merry Christmas, everyone. During this bipolar vortex of whirling emotions and longing, we’re going to have the best, worst, happiest, saddest, most unusual day ever. And 2020? It’s already in the rear view mirror. 
Here’s a little something to celebrate with.
(4) Fifth Harmony – All I Want for Christmas Is You (Official Video) – YouTube

Published by Judith Anne Pettersen

Judith Pettersen is an author living in Canada. She blogs about her life in the north and the ups and downs of being a writer.

3 thoughts on “Christmas in the Bipolar Vortex

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