Friday, May 14, 2021

Life & Style


This year I’m haunted by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future.

When I think of Christmas past, as in 2019, I think of gatherings. I think of chilly black nights, rushing through a doorway and into a warm house. Brushing snow off coat shoulders and being handed a hot mulled cider. There’s the sound of people talking simultaneously, different conversations in one room and everyone trying to be heard. Someone says something funny and there’s a burst of laughter like a thunderclap.

I think of everyone in the family crowded into Mom’s living room, watching a movie. I think of the big table with all of the leaves put in, groaning with food. Christmas poppers with really lame prizes and silly paper hats. Whoever gets the worst prize is deemed the winner. In my family, you want the most awful one because that’s the funniest.

I think of shopping just to be among the crowds. There’s an excitement in the air along with the elbow nudges and invasions of personal space. I mostly do my shopping locally and the more people I encounter doing the same, the better. It’s important to support small, local businesses. Besides, you can’t beat what can be found in little shops in little towns.

Christmas present is so different this year from Christmas past. This year, COVID-19 is the ultimate Christmas cracker bad prize. Only no one wants to get it and no one thinks it’s funny.

There are no parties where you’re in someone’s home gorging on sugar cookies and drinking a candy cane martini. There’s no holiday happy hour at the favorite watering hole, talking with your friends behind the bar and trying with them to figure out how to make a candy cane martini. There’s no office party where you get to discuss with your friends from work anything and everything but work. No concerts. No town tree lighting.

I don’t know if I’ll be seeing my family this year. That depends on the infection numbers and the risk. It’s not looking promising. So, like Scrooge, my mood this year is more bah humbug than holly jolly. I can see myself on Christmas Eve, bundled up in flannel like old Ebenezer himself, eating dinner from a bowl. I’ll have to make sure to have chili, not stew. We all know the effect that piece of underdone potato had on Mr. Scrooge. I won’t want Marley and his rattling chains to arrive at midnight. Things will be bad enough.

I’m going to have to figure out what to do if I have to holiday on my own. Zoom socializing leaves me drained and somehow sadder. I’ll need to hunker down yet still enjoy myself. Maybe I’ll adopt the Danish mindset of hygge. Hygge is all about being cozy and enjoying simple things. I’m thinking hot chocolate, big blankets, a good movie, and dinner in a bowl with no underdone potato. The Danish know how to get through a long, miserable winter better than anyone does. I’ll have to follow their lead.

The only way to get through Christmas present is to think about Christmas future. Here is where we completely stray from the Scrooge story. As Dickens told it, the character of Christmas future was a frightening specter. Death himself. My Christmas future is not a character and far less frightening. My Christmas future is hopeful. It’s full of company, singing, crowds, and commotion. Sometimes it’s hygge-esque, cozy and comfortable. But it’s hygge with family and friends. It’s the cozy with the company.

It’s a lot of laughing. By everyone. At everything. Silly paper hats. Bad prizes that actually are funny. Christmas future will be fun, festive, and sweet. Like a candy cane martini.

Juliana Gribbins is a writer who believes that absurdity is the spice of life. Her book Date Expectations is winner of the 2017 Independent Press Awards, Humor Category and winner of the 2016 IPPY silver medal for humor. Write to her at Read more of her columns at

Juliana Gribbins is the Columnist for Zip06. Email Juliana at .

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