To my youngest, during her first Christmas Season,
Every year, in December, families around the world join in some of the most incredible displays of holidays and traditions, with our family celebrating Christmas. This year will be your first, yet it won’t look like what we once imagined it would. Like many of your firsts this year, things just won’t be the same as they were for your big siblings and I feel a little sad about that.
This Christmas we won’t be hopping in the car and traveling far to see loved ones. You won’t be passed around to all your aunts and uncles, eager to dote on you and shower you with kisses on the top of your head. You won’t get your Christmas snuggles with Grandma and Grandpa, like both you and they so badly want and need right now. Cousins won’t be able to fight over who gets to hold you next, nestled within a prop of a million pillows as all the grownups try to get a quick photo of the cute pile of fluffy chaos.
We won’t be gathering with everyone around Great Grandma’s lasagna together on Christmas Eve, a tradition that’s existed since I was a baby.
We won’t be filling the house with the same sounds and smells and tastes as usual.
We won’t be catching a late night Christmas flight to see YeYe and NaiNai, with hot pot ready for our arrival. Your NaiNai would love to hold you for hours to give Mommy some time to relax. YeYe, taking pictures of you at every opportunity to proudly show off to everyone he knows. You won’t have the chance to meet your uncles or your auntie for the first time, snuggled up with movies and late night jiaozi and pork buns and millions of kisses and presents to open together.
My sadness over the absence of these things is great.
But, that is not all I feel. I also feel a type of hope, wrapped up in excitement.
It’s a hopeful kind of excitement, maybe, for the first time since this pandemic hit. Holidays have been particularly hard on me, as they have for many others during this time. I miss hugging family so much on these days. My sentimental heart just can’t handle what’s missing sometimes.
But this hopeful excitement is coming in strong this holiday season. While you, my little one, don’t realize what is missing, we will be sure that you will hear of the stories for years to come.
You’ll hear about how this year was so different, so that we could have many more Christmases together.
You’ll hear about how you got to be a part of a holiday season that was bigger than us, a reminder of what love and tradition really mean at its core.
About how, you, as a wee baby, got to be a part of keeping our family, our relatives, our community and ultimately the rest of humankind, safer and healthier because what we do right now matters for tomorrow.
You’ll be reminded of the great privilege it was for our family to stay home together, to stay safe, and to share our love with others in doing so.
You’ll hear how this year brought such grief and pain, but also how love and joy swept through our community to heal and bond. You’ll hear of the gratitude we have for good health.
It’s a hopeful kind of excitement knowing that you get to be a part of some of the most creative, most selfless and most loving planning we can make at a time like this. You’ll hear of the stories of outdoor visits and sneaky gift drop offs. To-go boxes full of treats, giddy excitement from your siblings and cousins as we caravan across town in our cars to look at lights.
You’ll hear about how families celebrate, without risking what’s most important to us. And how much fun we can have, with a little twist in tradition this year. You’ll learn about how different doesn’t have to mean less. You’ll learn about how these feelings can coexist with sadness and still be meaningful.
You’ll hear of how Great Grandma’s lasagna recipe still binds us together, whether in person or in Zoom and how YeYe and NaiNai’s love can pierce through a thousand miles thanks to technology.
And, while it won’t be this Christmas, one day, you will get to know what love feels like wrapped around you in a grandparent’s first embrace, when that embrace waited months upon months to happen. It will be incredible, little one.
You may not get the same smells and tastes and sounds of our usual holiday gathering, but you will, my dear, be a part of history. Your foundation for these gatherings will be laid with the selfless love of those around the world doing their part to keep everyone safer and I feel excited in knowing we can start your story this way.
With hopeful excitement, we will embrace a different kind of Christmas this year, just as families all over the world are doing in their holiday celebrations, so we can hold our families close for years to come. You will see, little one, that tradition is not just about doing things one way, but about the love behind all that we do.
Merry Christmas, little one.