What a Difference a Year Makes!


As the 2020 holiday season approached, there had been no trick-or-treating in our neighborhood and we were preparing for our first Thanksgiving without guests. Because neither of us know how to cook small portions, we froze leftovers and had several Thanksgiving dinners throughout the end 2020 and early 2021.

We canceled our 10-year anniversary celebration, which had already been postponed for a year and thankfully (surprisingly after more than a year at home alone together) we’re still married and hoping to celebrate in 2022. Spring brought our vaccinations and afforded us the luxury of a beach vacation during the summer. Sure, we only ate at outdoor restaurants and we wore masks indoors, but it was a welcome reprieve from the isolation of 2020. We socialized on our patio with other vaccinated friends and family members, but some people were always missing.

We haven’t seen any of our favorite younger nieces and nephews since the pandemic began. Without vaccines for those under 12, our interactions have been limited to FaceTime, Zoom, and drive-by greetings where we remain in the car and the kids stay six feet away to regale us with the latest stories from school and the latest dance moves they learned on TikTok.

But now, there’s hope on the horizon. With the CDC’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 in early November, we’ll be able to see and hug our favorite little people soon! Junie can sit in his uncle’s lap and give him a highfive when his favorite football team scores; and Roselle and I can sit at the kitchen table while she draws pictures for me to display on the refrigerator. Our six-year-old nephew, affectionately known as “The Owl,” can finally show us how his two grown-up teeth are growing in and return to his favorite hiding spot under our couch.

Hubby and I have received our booster shots so in December, we’ll be able to watch the old Christmas cartoons into the wee hours of the night and enjoy Christmas breakfast in our pajamas while the sound of sniggles, giggles, and squeals fill the house and gingerbread-crusted smiles look back at us. After an empty house for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, this year we’ll have 8 guests for Thanksgiving dinner and both of our mothers visiting for Christmas. What a joyful difference!

With prices soaring on food, airline tickets, and gas, things might not be as fancy and gifts not as extravagant as they’ve been in years past. However, the gift of togetherness is cheap at twice the price. The blessing of enjoying a cocktail with my mother-in-law and the humiliation of being roundly trounced by Miss America in a game of Scrabble will be greatly appreciated and forever remembered after missing them for nearly two years.

Despite the challenges and hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to modern medicine 2021 will be ending with a bang for us. We’ll still cook too much food, but at least we’ll have friends and family to celebrate and partake with us and hopefully, take home some leftovers.