This was already the winter of my discontent and now Mr. Smith has tested positive for COVID. There have been several cases at his place of employment so when he was feeling under the weather this past week, he decided to go for a test. The call with his results was like a punch in the gut to me. He is my pandemic pal and I thought we were taking good care of each other. We adhere to the CDC guidelines. We wear masks, wash our hands, use hand sanitizer and social distance. Yet he got the dreaded virus and as we all know, it is scary stuff.
Now we are quarantining and luckily, so far so good. His symptoms are mild and hopefully it will simply run its course. If not, our granddaughter Eleanor has offered to “take grandpa to the doctor and then take him home where she’ll get him water and make him dinner.” If only everyone had access to such wonderful care!
After my initial panic and a calming phone conference with his doctor, my attention returned to other matters. With Christmas quickly approaching we were quarantined with piles of Christmas gifts that needed to be on their way to our kids and grandkids. Always resourceful, Mr. Smith hopped on the UPS website, entered the needed information, printed out labels and scheduled a pickup. There were some interesting moments as we got on the bathroom scale alone and then holding boxes trying to determine their weight. With the presents boxed up and the prepaid labels applied, we simply shoved them out our front door during our pickup window and they magically disappeared. And just as magically, we could go online and track them. Many, many thanks to the people of UPS! We may not be able to see our children and grandchildren this holiday, but their gifts will be there!
On one hand I’m trying to count my blessings that Mr. Smith’s symptoms are mild, on the other hand, his positive test result is one more thing for me to add to my long list of grievances with the year 2020. And the timing!!! This entire holiday season has been unusual to say the least and I have had trouble getting a grasp on it. Recently my friend Marilyn shared a column written by Ben Jackson back in 2015 for wbru Cognoscenti, Muddling Through the Season of Joy, long before COVID-19 had taken over our lives. This year I believe I am a muddler.
When Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane were asked to compose a song for the Judy Garland film, “Meet Me in St. Louis”, the result was “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, acknowledging the melancholy many feel during the holiday season. This was particularly true at the time the movie was released in 1944. WWII was raging, some soldiers having been deployed away from their homes for the entirety of the war. “Have Yourself a Merry Little. Christmas”, along with “I’ll be Home for Christmas” recorded in 1943 by Bing Crosby which was written to honor soldiers overseas, hopefully provide them with a small bit of comfort. “Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow” may have been originally written with regard to getting through the war, but it also describes how I feel about waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine to be available to everyone.
So right when I was muddling my way through this holiday seasons – no kids, no grandkids, no sister, no friends, no travel, no parties – the big bad virus invaded our home. After making sure we had all we needed to care for Mr. Smith, a thermometer and pulse oximeter and some reassurance from his doctor, I allowed myself to indulge in a little pity party for one – ME!
Busy with my pity party, I was slow to respond to an email from my niece who, having heard about Mr. Smith through the family grapevine, was inquiring about how things were going. I told her I had been busy feeling sorry for myself but was clawing my way out of it. She graciously responded with love and wishes for a speedy recovery for Mr. Smith and with some very kind words just for me. She suggested I wasn’t truly having a pity party, but more what could be characterized as a “freak out” party. That when “all that pressure got you down”, you just have to freak out…
Ah, freak out, Le freak, c’est chic Freak out!
I hope we all find our holiday cheer this season. But like Ben Jackson, I hope we also “…look for the muddlers, the sad eyes behind the strained smiles. See them. Hold them close, acknowledge their feelings, include them.” And should the pressure start to get to you, remember, Le freak, c’est chic!
C’est la vie.