As a topsy-turvy 2020 wraps up and the holidays come into full view, I am embracing some of the simplicity that the pandemic has forced on us.
With fewer distractions and another abrupt halt to sports and socializing, my focus will be redirected to things that bring more joy and less aggravation.
I refuse to get wrapped up in self-inflicted Christmas mania and have made the executive decision not to commemorate 2020 with a holiday card. I will not give 2020, the “middle child” of years, the attention it desperately wants.
And just like that, I feel relief.
A major headache will be avoided trying to find the perfect family photo—one that has been actively withheld from social media and safeguarded for a perfectly timed debut. I can now save myself from reviewing 365 days of unflattering iPhone images in the hopes of finding one that conveys familial bliss, whilst I lovingly use my children as human shields to combat unflattering angles.
No such luck.
And forget creating an idyllic holiday visual now—a bloodsport in New Canaan that I will gladly sidestep. On one recent afternoon, when the light was just so, I passed through Waveny during peak “shooting season” and, man, it was a revelation. Perfectly coiffed and color-coordinated families spread throughout the great lawn as professional photographers snapped away, using puppets, horns, balloons and whistles to attract the gazes of attention-deficient subjects and wayward toddlers. Between shots, no one looked happy—except for the family dogs, who ran off to avoid overly aggressive primping.
Having witnessed this intense photoshoot chaos, I grew relieved that my own family pictures are mostly taken spontaneously (and for free) by strangers unlucky enough to make eye contact with me in scenic locales.
Yet this year’s amateur photo outtakes will remain uncirculated.
I am also grateful that I won’t have to navigate create-a-memory websites and sort through thousands of design options, sift through a sea of all-caps promo codes, or even ponder the concept of adding holiday glitter to already embellished, foiled-lined envelopes. Also, I will gladly avoid incurring the usual rush charges, overnight delivery fees, and the reckless, living-on-edge waiving of quality-control proofs.
This newfound freedom is a delight.
I decided to break character and get a jump-start on our outdoor holiday light display, which makes it feel like a hope-filled 2021 is just around the corner. Typically, I would frown upon fast-forwarding through Thanksgiving and not savoring it for a few days. But it’s official: I have embraced the early onset of holiday decorating.
In years past, I rolled my eyes when friends jumped the gun and unveiled winter wonderlands in November.
It’s amazing what a pandemic will do to change a person. Here I am, all decked out with wreaths, outdoor lights and garland.
Next, I will take on the great indoors. Each year, I specifically look forward to busting out our wacky Christmas stockings and putting them on display to quizzical eyes. The unusual stockings were purchased during the Great Recession of 2009, when times were bleak and jobs were scarce. They’re so disproportionately tiny that they are suitably sized for elves themselves. However, they bring me such joy and serve as a simple reminder that we really don’t need much to be happy. Plus, I wanted to set my kids’ expectations from an early age that Santa was not a compulsive shopper.
The turbulent economic decline of 2009 seems like ages ago now, so I will happily hang our tiny, ridiculous-looking “Recession Stockings” again this year and be reminded that this too shall pass.
Cheers and Happy Holidays, New Canaan, may you find joy in the quieter, simpler remaining moments of 2020—the most unusual year.
Hooray for Susan Gelvin! Sometimes less can truly be more.
Love the tiny recession stockings! Hysterical, as always.
I relate with everything in Susan’s hilarious essay. Well said!
The recession stockings?!!! Love love and loved this!
I always love your work. So well done and definitely brought me joy. 😀