This Year, I Truly Believe

Photo by Waldemar Brandt/Unsplash

In a grocery store, very perishable items need to be marked with a “sell by” date. Though every food (except honey, apparently) eventually will expire, products like dairy, seafood and bread, among others, have a much shorter shelf-life. The other day I smiled when I found some brownies in our store with a sell-by of 11/31/20.

Misdating like that is easy enough to do. While I don’t think I’ve ever added a mythical day to a month, I have most definitely calculated the number of days until the suggested expiry date incorrectly. Sometimes, if I feel lazy, I take out my mobile and ask Siri “What is the date twenty one days from now?” and turn the little wheels in the price gun to whatever she says. I mostly use my fingers and tap out days without benefit of electronics. Hence, more possibility for error.

This year, I want there to be more days in December, all of them before Christmas. Maybe the team member who tagged 11/31 on brownies was feeling that way about November.

I’d like to put 12/42/20 on perishable items, or 12/99/20. I don’t remember ever wanting Christmas and Hanukkah season so badly, and I have been, in the not-too-distant past, a misanthrope about the winter holidays. I have written about that.

Not this year.

I have already violated my rule about never listening to George Winston’s beautiful “December” before the actual month. I started about two weeks ago. I’ve already been through half a box of Spiced Christmas Tea. I got out our copy of The Polar Express and put it on the coffee table. I’ve started rereading A Christmas Carol. I’m exulting in all the lights already lit, the stupid blow up Santas on lawns, and the seasonal music playing on the store’s sound system. The first I carol I heard, the day after Thanksgiving, was Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. It was like a symphony.

Photo by Mitya Ivanov/Unsplash

Bring it on! All the kitsch and all the excess and all the plastic shit and all the deeper meaning with which we can imbue the days. All of it.

We heard, over the weekend in the space of twenty four hours, of three different people we know (or whose family we know) who tested positive for the virus. One of them had died. This pathogen is not “out there” in some other country, it’s right next door, it’s in our midst, and we need a little Christmas magic.

I was even driven to my copy of Hamlet to find these lines by Marcellus (Act 1, Scene 1):

Some say that ever ‘gainst that season comes
Wherein our Savior’s birth is celebrated,
This bird of dawning singeth all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad,
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallowed and so gracious is that time.

Is there magic that can keep the virus from stirring abroad?

We know the answer to that. Just the magic of doing what it takes and cooperating with each other until this is behind us.

The Polar Express, sitting on our coffee table, ends like this:

“At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe.”

Let me tell you, this year I truly believe.

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