For some strange reason, my pals get a kick out of suggesting titles for my blogs. A few weeks ago, a dear friend offered this one, and I mulled it over for a while. Today, I figured out why it’s the perfect title for my Christmas Eve post.
This year, out of “an abundance of caution” I’m spending Christmas Eve with those in my Pandemic 2020 “bubble”-- my husband, our eldest son, and his wife. Missing are my middle son and his wife, my youngest son, my brother, my sister-in law, my nephew, and on Xmas Day the aforementioned as well as additional aunts, uncles and a niece. For the first time in 20 years—since my mother’s passing—I’m not making all the traditional holiday foods and hosting the extended family. I'm skipping the fruit salad with whipped cream (a hold-over from days of yore), and there will be no sparkling cider or mixed nuts in shells because I plum forgot to order them online. How sad.
And yet we are--knock on wood--still healthy ten months into this mess. And universe willing, we will be here to celebrate next year…because of an abundance of caution that tells us that no matter what we do, or who we spend the holidays with, we want to follow the yogic pledge of ahimsa: non-harming.
But what about…throwing caution to the wind? What about the abandonment of fear, trusting in the Divine, what about just saying, “Eat, drink and be merry….for tomorrow...” Well, you probably know the rest of that quote.
I like to throw caution to the wind sometimes. Kick off my shoes and jump into the deep water. Drive just a tad too fast. Stay up too late. Get on an airplane even though I’m scared to fly. Just say, “Who cares?“ or “Whatever!” Or, well...wtf.
I’ve always been one to err on the side of caution, though, and these times seem perfect for that approach. I feel sorry for folks who are used to throwing caution to the wind, folks who live with wild, untamed abandon, because this is a tough time to be doing that. Not so much because they might get hurt, but because they might cause someone they love to lose their very life.
These are the oddest of times, and the most bizarre and sacred of Christmas seasons, even though many of us are not where we want to be, and not with all--or possibly any--of the people we want to be with. This holiday season, more than perhaps any other, I’m steeped in gratitude. And I’m acutely aware of the blessings I’ve enjoyed most of my life. I’m deeply aware of how much my family means to me and this Christmas, more than any other, I understand that caring for others is the most important act we can do on earth.
And so, out of an abundance of caution, this will be a lonely but quiet, reflective, and responsible Christmas. My heart aches because it’s different, because I can’t be with or hug all my kids (though I'm lucky indeed to have one I can see in person) and because it feels like time is lost, never to be retrieved. But I know time is also gained, in the sense that what really matters to us is now crystal clear, and hopefully after this year of painful lessons we will never "waste" time ever again.
They say there’s a season for everything, and though it’s not in the Bible or in a song by the Byrds (that I know of) I believe there’s a season for an abundance of caution, as well as a time to throw caution to the wind. For sure, this year has proven that there is, as the scripture says, “...a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.” Nevertheless-- without hugs or kisses--I wish you all a beautiful holiday, and a healthy, triumphant New Year.