The day has been a complete blur, pretty much like the strange weather. It was dark when it should have been bright, and now I am sitting in front of my beautifully lit Christmas tree, sharing the space with my two wonderful but ever so slightly potty cats, with soul-staring piano music from Philipp Wesley playing in the background. The candles of hope are burning, and I am contemplating a million and one things at the same time. For starters, how bizarre 2020 has been: At the end of February this year we mocked those who were wearing masks and initialising social distancing, thinking that COVID-19 would just be some exaggerated thing conjured up in the news and the conspiracy theorists of the world. Then one by one, the countries began closing their borders, and the deaths began. Once we all got sent home to work from there towards the end of March, we began to have an inkling of the seriousness of the situation. Now many of us have reached the point where we refuse to come in contact with anyone not wearing a mask and get aggressive if anyone violates the regulations.
We have all unlearned socialising this year, learned everything there is to know about social distancing, and by God we are now all PhD holders in Advanced Hand Washing, with double MAs in Disinfecting. Some of us are gunning for that second PhD in Paranoia instead of Paranormal, as was the trend for the past ten years. If you were just a Trekkie for the past 20 years, 2020 forced you into becoming a Zoomie instead, and the fashionista YouTubers of the interweb galaxy had to figure out how to do their make-up Vlogs for Zoom meetings, not to mention all the teachers and professors who had to re-invent their curricula for webinars.
Easter? What Easter? Summer holiday COVIDiots brought about the next Tsunami of infections, along with protest marches and the non-believers. In short, the best and the worst of human traits have surfaced, manifesting fundamental greed and gross inconsideration at supermarkets by hoarding toilet paper and other basic items. We have learned that that selfishness can be so perverted that it can become a political platform or a grounds for instigating protests and delusions of grandeur and grandstanding – anything to avoid COVID-19 and reality. At the same time, we are surrounded by people whose selflessness and commitment to serve have earned their sainthood by working tirelessly as front-liners. Let’s not insult them by just clapping simultaneously in public, but honour their work and efforts by doing our part and, to quote Stephen King’s Tweet today “wear your goddam mask!”
We unlearned how to be independent assholes who orbit aimlessly without a care in world and not needing anyone to survive, and have had to re-configure our authentic selves in the face of having to do everything from home, in isolation, and with very little options. Suddenly those you claim to love above all else are the living, breathing monsters from your nightmares who apparently live on your bed and not under it. The Boogeyman wears shorts, flip-flops, a long sleeved shirt, coat and tie to cruise from kitchen to dining room, and maybe even request food delivery. We dispensed with spas and beauty parlours, but discovered the fundamental necessity of knowing how to cut your own hair without looking like you stuck your head in the lawnmower.
Christmas is creeping up on us, and I am not sure how I want to celebrate it. Gift buying has become utterly pointless and redundant, because whatever you and the person(s) you were confined with the past 11 months coveted, you already bought online between March and today. Your favourite boutique or little gift shop has probably gone bankrupt already, there are no parties allowed or pubs to crawl to. You have basically deleted Date Night from your list of things to do with your spouse because … well because you have been stuck with them all year within the same four walls and the thought of having to spend precious moments of non-confinement with them is absolutely abhorring. Besides, Date Night would mean having to dress fully, i.e. the actual pants or skirt to go with the rest of the Zoom outfit.
Look ahead, think positive, things will be better in 2021, we just have to survive 2020 is what I keep hearing and reading, but it’s all a load of bovine excrement. We will survive 2020 by hook or by crook but we won’t come out of it the same persons we were at the beginning the year. Brace yourselves for another round of selfishness and aggression once the holiday lockdowns are enforced, the New Year’s Eve parties are broken up, and the nightmare of vaccination production, storage and distribution begins. We are nowhere near being out of the woods, and at the very least the first quarter of 2021 already promises to be a continuation of 2020, as we fight a two-front battle of pandemic and stupidity.
Here in Germany the absence of the romantic Christmas markets has made a dent on people’s souls and brought about a dismal melancholy everywhere. I haven’t had a single Glühwein (hot mulled wine) this Advent, but at least the potato pancakes with apple sauce have made an appearance in my kitchen (yes, homemade), and I believe I am on my second bag of Spekulatius cookies already.
The music has clutched at my heartstrings, the cats are snoring, and I am at a loss as to what Christmas 2020 really means to me. I remain grateful for the 2020 lessons, for showing me the value or insignificance of what I have, the true face of what I can live with, and more importantly live without. Most important of all, I celebrate life, inner strength, silence, simplicity, and that the true gifts are those that you cannot buy to travel to.
Winter has never felt so cold.