In less than a week we are saying goodbye to 2020. On the stroke of midnight, I will be relieved to see the back of this unfortunate year filled with upheaval and sorrow. For some of us, in the UK, there will be no fireworks, no big celebration. We are in Tier 4 lockdown. Each household will stick to their own bubble, no mixing for fear of catching the virus or, getting a hefty fine from the police.
How do we celebrate when the magic is gone? A few days before December 6th, my family decided that we would not be having our usual celebrations. Even worse, Christmas would be downsized to one single gift per person. I was devastated because I was looking forward to a merry time spent with the whole family. Surely, we cannot cancel Christmas!
“Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.” – Emory Austin
December is special for me. Not only it is the month of my birth but, I also celebrate religious feasts weekly – from St. Nicolas on the 6th to the birth of Jesus on the 25th. A long period of excitement, non-stop organising and celebrating. The house would be warm throughout, and a nice aroma of baking would be wafting from the kitchen. Baubles would decorate the Christmas tree and stockings waiting to be filled, would hang by the chimney.
But this year, things have turned out differently. I found myself in a situation that I had no control over. My life has been impacted dramatically since the start of the pandemic. From being in a full-time job to being stuck at home, from being independent to relying on others. I have had to steer through ongoing adversity.
“Like tiny seeds with potent power to push through tough ground and become mighty trees, we hold innate reserves of imaginable strength. We are resilient.” – Catherine DeVrye
At times, I would wake up with a pang of anxiety and feel overwhelmed. I knew if I did not do something about it, I would soon feel worthless and desperate. I needed to manage my emotions and find a day-to-day purpose. By adapting to a new way to thinking, I could function normally. All I had to do was to look for the positive among the negative.
With the help of online communities, I soon learned to be resilient. With their help, I kept going, never gave up. I learned to work at every challenge that came my way, using different strategies that got me through the day. My strength was tested, and I learned the limit I could endure. Through our daily connections, I was able to grow stronger.
“Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.” – E.B White
What 2020 taught me is that things can get bad. But what I do with the constraints and stress is what defines who I am. I have stopped assuming and now, I let go of anything that is not within my control. I am grateful for each day where I learn to be stronger and wiser.
I have learned to live on less and give more to others. By minimalizing my expectations, I know where my limit lies. I have the power to be kind to myself and the responsibility to pick myself up when I fall.
As the year ends and I reflect on the past, I am glad that I listened to my heart. I had two choices: let bitter circumstances affect my celebrations or embellish them with love, joy, and happiness. I chose the second. St. Nicholas and Christmas were a success. Bring on 2021!