They traveled many miles with their parents to be with us for Christmas and New Year’s. They can be silly, funny and smart. They dedicate their time and effort, as you can see here, to entertaining Grandpa.
Or, sometimes, we would get in the car and drive to Colorado to share Christmas with another set of grandchildren. We would all crowd in, share a breakfast, play with the new toys and, most of all, enjoy one another’s company.
This is not likely to happen in 2020. Our usual family celebrations will be on hold until transportation is safe, hotels are safe, a vaccine is available, and social distancing is one of those dated expressions that falls from usage. In the meantime it will be up to FaceTime, Zoom, and UPS to get the Christmas toys and greetings to the distant family.
If you have ever been in a group that needed to give someone a group hug, you know that there is nothing else that will do. And if you have ever been that person who needed a group hug, you also know there can be no substitute.
Here you see a group of Methodist teenagers in December, 2017, after they received news that their youth director was moving from Chapelwood 1 to Chapelwood 2 up the road in Houston. The hug was their spontaneous, genuine, and deeply felt gift. The photographer barely had time to point the camera.
This is not something that can ever happen in a Zoom meeting.
Hover over the table with your friends. Everyone is commenting about how pretty the layout is. Stab an olive with a twice-used toothpick. It’s about saving the forests after all. Or glance furtively around the table. No one is looking. Grab one between thumb and index finger. Double dip the cheese melt with a cold green bean. No one noticed that first bite. Dip the other end. Hands are clean and dry. Now reach across the table and shake hands with a friend you haven’t seen in at least a week or two. On the return from that greeting, swoop down and land a chunk of sweet pineapple.
Moving on to the new year.
The crowd is still forming. Scotch eggs, maple-iced doughnuts, French roast coffee, artichoke dip, veggies, nuts, wassail. Before the morning passes, sixty or so friends will crowd in around the table, serve a plate, exchange greetings, and tell tales of the year gone by, hopes for the year ahead and mostly true stories from all the walks of community life.
Our love is manifest in food and words.
How will we greet 2021? There is virtually no safe and healthy way to do it the way we have been doing it. But January is so far in the future. We can hope.