Happy birthday to me. Yes, it is my birthday. Usually, I wouldn’t bring it up. I actually tend to hide it. It has nothing to do with my age. I just don’t like to be the center of attention.
Today is different. I want to yell it out loud and clear.
I want to recognise the privilege it is to be getting older. I might not always feel like that, but I do today. What a privilege! What joy!
What comes along with my birthday is the beginning of the Christmas season since Christmas is in exactly five weeks. For my American family, that means they are in full swing preparing for Thanksgiving. For many of my Canadian brethren, it means we are getting our shopping done and I must get going on my Christmas cards.
This year will probably be quite different for most. Covid changes so many things. This might be the first time that some will not be able to be with all of their loved ones. For others, it feels like such an insult; “What do you mean I won’t have what I have always had!”
Some will just reminder how lonely they feel. The sensation might even be amplified this year.
For certain people, it is just another celebration without loved ones, forced on them by physical distance and responsibilities.
Let’s get back to my birthday. Tonight, I will have the chance to see my girl on a videoconference so I could blow out my candles. She is safe. She is healthy. She is far. I miss her. It has been 16 months since I have hugged her. Maybe next year. For now, I don’t want to see her. Not here. Not in the Montreal area where the risk of covid is so much higher than her neck of the woods in Newfoundland. Why would I risk my girl’s wellbeing? To fulfill my mother’s wish to see her? I really want to see my girl and finally meet her mate in person, but knowing she is safe is so much more important to me.
I am just thrilled I get to “see” her tonight. After all, a few years back, she was in the Indonesian jungle studying orangutans. We wouldn’t get news for a month at a time. What a long year! I won’t lie to you, the weekends we got to speak with her, we would savour her voice so much…
That year, one of my cousins explained to me how lucky I was. After all my daughter was on “terra firma”. Hers had spent a year going around the world on a sailboat…
I will come back to some of the birthday thoughts I had this morning. I remembered stories I had heard of my first birthday.
There are a number of pictures of me to commemorate my first steps, my first birthday and my second Christmas. It was Mom’s way to include Dad in my “firsts”. She took pictures and sent them to him. You see, Dad was posted to Alert, almost 4000 km north of where we were. He was part of the first Alert system to protect North America during the Cold War. Mom did what she could to keep us 4 kids (between the ages 1 and 5) from feeling Dad’s absence too much. She had to do it that year, as she did her best to hide how much she missed him…
The Cold War is now over, at least I hope it is, but there are still men and women who are far from their loves in my name and in yours. Kids will not be with their parents who serve our country and spouses cannot be together. They must be strong enough to face the Christmas holidays without those they miss terribly. They are not complaining. They are trying to celebrate what is in front of them…
Can we do the same thing? Can we be as grown-up and as strong as the kids and the spouses of those who must leave their loved ones in our name?
I will add my appreciation to those, like my sister-in-law, who have missed celebrations with their own families to take care of their “people” in residences and hospitals. In these Covid times, many have avoided their own loved ones to protect their charges.
Can we also cut down some of our celebrations to protect others?
I don’t want to forget some amazing people. To those who must be separated from their families because of a serious medical condition. Hats off to you who find creative ways to still celebrate. For some it is a question of survival…
If you are blessed to not have the stress of a potentially deadly condition, maybe you could put your energy to finding creative ways to make the holidays special without risking other people’s wellbeing.
I wish for you many sweet moments, possibly different kinds, as we all approach the new year.