I walk out the front door of our house in a small 55-plus community on the North Fork, awaiting the third Christmas in our downsized home. Our first Christmas was a blur, trying to acclimate after 26 years in a house we loved but had become too much. Downsizing meant parting with things you had your whole life, knowing they’d be gone forever. Leaving behind the home where we raised our child; beloved pets buried in the backyard. We hoped for a new beginning, not the beginning of the end.
A year ago, the house was much more our own. I found a place for Christmas decorations that had survived our move from Rocky Point. Mostly vintage things, family heirlooms, even a few of my son’s artistic efforts. Our china cabinet once again filled with my vintage Christmas collection. Friends and family visited, and we celebrated.
What would describe Christmas 2020? Different? Unimaginable? Depressing? Frightening? All of the above?
Why unpack the Christmas stuff again? Why empty bins so optimistically filled back in January? We never could have contemplated the changes and losses that would soon occur. I was tempted to just forget it.
So much is missing now. My six lifelong friends, our "Dolly Sisters" group, had to give up our annual "Dolly Holiday" party, held the first Saturday of December with grab bag gifts shopped for all year. No Christmas Eve feast at my niece’s home. The New Year’s Day get-together with my longtime friend, Maureen Monte, and her children — and now grandchildren — won’t happen. Our friends canceled their winter in Florida for the first time in 16 years. They stay indoors, and we hardly see them.
Questions linger. If I don’t decorate the house this year, will I do so next year — even with the vaccines and the light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel? Will I succumb to the inertia of being a senior citizen living among peers? Will I leave Christmas boxed up until the day comes when someone else empties the house of things I valued but seem like silly junk?
I stand on the front stoop and hear the rustle of the breeze among the naked oaks behind us. Next door, bright bulbs and green garlands grace every window. Down the street, evergreens flank a front door draped in rainbow colors, Santa waving. Across the street, our neighbors’ fall mums have been succeeded by plastic poinsettias. On the corner, a sparkling Mickey and Minnie Mouse are surrounded by inflatable gifts. Lighted wreaths grace doors, and electric candles brighten windows.
There is hope on this Long Island winter’s night. Hope for a better year, for peace and health, for the future. There is determination not to give in and not to give up on this simple pleasure, on this holiday season, on this life. Oh, I’ve asked my husband to take out one of the Christmas boxes.
Roseann Forziano lives in Calverton.