Maybe Tidings of Joy This Year

Photo by Nicole Michalou on

This holiday season we are in a moment filled with tentative hope, while also looking over our shoulders for the Boogey Man to steal our joy. I’ve learned over the last two years that optimism is a saving grace, but caution is advised. I’ve never been one who enjoyed a roller coaster ride either literally or figuratively, but of late I’ve found a semblance of joy in whatever the fates send my way. Back in February I celebrated my first vaccination with ecstatic tears of joy. Somehow in that moment I believed that the end of Covid had arrived and a return to normalcy was on the horizon. 

Indeed, two weeks after my second vaccine I went out to eat for the first time in over a year. I eventually set up meetings with friends and even got to attend the college and high school graduations of my grandchildren. Perhaps the most wonderful moment came when my husband and I helped our grandson move from home to an apartment in Austin where he would soon be working on his first post college job. 

Next we went on a grand vacation through parts of Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. While we still donned our masks and kept our distance from other people, we were unafraid to eat in crowded restaurants, visit museums, shop in stores, and gather in large groups. It felt as though we had been permanently liberated. In fact, I was so certain the worst of Covid had passed that I told my mathematics students that we would begin meeting in person again during the fall semester. I also enrolled in a class that would be held at Rice University. It felt so good and I was relieved that I had escaped the virus and would no longer have to worry about it, or so I thought.

Then came the Delta variant and a new phase of the virus. The hospitals near me became full and people that I knew were contracting Covid and sometimes even dying from it. My level of confidence waned, especially when Rice University informed me that the class for which I had registered would be remote just as the one from the previous year had been. My niece cautioned me to teach vis Zoom as well, so I had to break the disappointing news to my students and their parents. It felt like moving back to square one. Suddenly my forays into normal society were greatly reduced and I felt like crying once again, but this time my tears would not be joyful. 

Always one to adapt I took my new normal in stride after a time. I kept mostly to myself until I became eligible for the booster shot and the number of cases in my area had gone down dramatically. Then I went gallivanting back to Colorado once again for a glorious fall vacation with my brother and sister-in-law. It was just the tonic that I needed to make me feel that this time Covid was in its death throes. 

Somehow the feeling held for many weeks and bit by bit I became more and more daring. Hubby and I even attended a live performance of Joe Bonamassa with a mostly maskless crowd. I blended well with the Asians who were still wearing masks as I hard-headedly clung to the face apparel that I was not yet ready to abandon. I happily ate at my favorite restaurants and enjoyed face to face visits with my children and grandchildren without any masks at all. It was glorious!

Then came news of Omicron, another new variant. An uptick of cases in Europe seemed to cause a kind of worldwide panic once again. Suddenly I understood that it would be best to temper my enthusiasm for freedom. I realized that the virus is fighting back as hard as we are. In the end it will be the survival fo the fittest, and while I am betting on humans, I also know that not everyone is doing everything possible to keep Covid from finding new hosts in which to live. My efforts have not always been replicated by my fellow citizens, and so the virus keeps doing its natural thing and in the process, preventing me from celebrating its demise as soon as I would like. 

I’m a veteran of the Covid wars by now. I know the drill so far. I hunker down voluntarily when the virus is out of hand and wear my variety of masks like a fashion accessory. I’ve learned how to enjoy and appreciate my time at home and how to make the best of whatever comes. I’ll keep getting jabs as needed and hoping that one day we will defeat the nuisance that we know as Covid. Nobody will rain on my parade because I am able to find happiness wherever I have to be and with whatever I have to do. The fact is that I have been one very lucky woman so far. Complaining would be a very selfish thing to do. 

Thanksgiving this year was fabulous for me and most of the people I know. I’ve got my fingers crossed for Christmas. I have my annual traditions for the season lined up for in person celebrating. Barring something unforeseen, it just might feel somewhat like normal for most of December. My fingers are crossed, but I have plans B, C, D and E if a sudden change comes my way. I’m a survivor and always have been. I’m betting on good tidings of joy for Christmas and the New Year, but I’ll be ready if I have to switch gears once again.