Christmas 2020, what will it bring? Certainly, it will be a different kind of Christmas, but each family can make it what they choose to. Our church is once again closed — we would only be allowed to have eight members present anyway — so the ruling body chose to make it online services only.

This frustrates me no end. I do not believe the governor has the right to close all of the churches, but our bishop sees things differently.

What if this is your last Christmas on earth? How would you feel then? When I think of all the people sequestered in their rooms at various facilities it makes me angry. Those people have rights, too.

I know what they are doing is for the patient’s own good, but nevertheless, it just seems cruel. My husband has a son in the Rouse. Today is his birthday. We planned to make the arrangements to visit with him on his birthday. That is not to be. We have not seen him since March. Now he is not even allowed out of the facility. That seems like cruel and unjust punishment when he has done nothing wrong.

Will our family gather for Christmas? I suspect that we will not. Don does not want to be exposed to the virus because of underlying health conditions. Maybe we will get to see the grandchildren who are home from college. They should have finished their quarantine by then. I certainly want to be able to see them.

We no longer give family gifts, but we did eat a meal together. We always came here after going to the Christmas Eve service at Akeley United Methodist Church. That has been a tradition for as long as the grandchildren were born. There will be no service this year since we are not allowed to gather.

How does that change what goes on at home? I do not think I will get my Christmas village out. There will be no one to see it. Last year it was out but no one came. A family member had surgery so we could not gather. To get it out is a lot of work. I think I will forgo that.

I will get out our tree so at least the house looks festive. I so enjoy the lights of the tree. It reminds me of days gone by. When I was young, I used to go with my grandfather to help set up the tree at his father’s house.

I loved to go up in the attic to see what I could find. While I was there, I found a curio shelf that my great-grandfather made out of wooden cigar boxes. It is very delicate. My grandfather fixed it up and gave it to me. It is in my living room to this day. I think my cousin has the other shelf that I found at her house.

I also found an old settee. The fabric was worn, the springs sagged, but the frame was solid. I did not get that settee until after my great-aunt died. My mother had it reupholstered for us after I cleaned up the frame. It is in my dining room. I slept on it while my husband was ill since I did not want to leave him alone downstairs. It is really not too comfortable to sleep on but it worked.

Back to our trees. After we put up great-grandpa’s tree we went home to put up our own tree. I never tired then of the tree setting up. My grandfather always tied the tree so that it would not fall over.

My mother and I had a tree in our apartment. A friend offered to help me take it down. I was happy until he brought out his saw to cut off each of the branches. It was truly a mess. We were cleaning up pine needles for a very long time.

When I had my own apartment, I did not put up a tree because I was not there over the holidays. Most of the time I was at my then boy friend’s home. I helped with their tree.

Once we married, we put a tree in our trailer. There was not much room, but to me it was a necessity. One year we went to the woods to get our tree from a friend of my husband. The man came with us and helped situate it on the sled to pull it out of the woods. It was a wonderful family experience. We took movies to preserve the memory. When we got home my husband handed the camera to his mother to do the filming. When I have time, I still view those movies – just to remember.

At Hickory Heights during our first Christmas, we were refinishing the floors. My husband put on the last coat of gym seal and we walked out the door to go shopping. The next morning, we set up our tree. The whole dining room needed to be washed down before we could eat our meal.

As I write about these memories, I realize that nothing that I wrote about is out of the question for this strange Christmas season. We can still do all of those things. Each family needs to follow their own traditions. Although Christmas 2020 will be different, it is up to the family to make it be what is important to them. We can still worship — although remotely.

We can read the Christmas story with our family. We can even have a birthday cake for the Savior if we choose. We can still read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” if we want. That was one of our family traditions. My husband read to the children while I hauled out the Christmas gifts.

This is a unique opportunity to put your family’s stamp on Christmas. Do not worry too much about the gifts. I have found that the memories of the children do not center around their gifts. The memories that surface most often are about the family traditions.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell. Contact at [email protected]

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