Jenna Hauck is a multimedia journalist with The Chilliwack Progress. (Chilliwack Progress file)

Jenna Hauck is a multimedia journalist with The Chilliwack Progress. (Chilliwack Progress file)

COLUMN: Minimalist family Christmas yet again

‘I enjoyed the little things that year… and it turned out to be a pretty great Christmas after all’

No big family dinner. No kids sitting together to open presents with cousins and grandparents. No extended family hugs.

Christmas 2020 is going to be quiet, sad and depressing for many. And for me, it’s turning out to be a repeat of Christmas 2017.

My daughter was a mere six weeks old at the time and she was sick. She had been sick every single day since she was five days old. She could never seem to get a break.

Shortly before the holidays, my son picked up a gastrointestinal virus at daycare and passed it along to his baby sister. I recall isolating with her in our bedroom so that my husband – the chef – wouldn’t get sick, but it didn’t work.

Eventually we all did catch that gastrointestinal virus, but thankfully my husband and I caught it at different times.

About a week before Christmas, we were all feeling well again, but by then we had passed the virus on to grandparents on both sides of the family.

I felt terrible.

Christmas was not going to happen – not in December, anyway. My snowbird parents were going to be heading south right around the new year and the window for us to gather soon after Dec. 25 was too small.

It was my newborn daughter’s first Christmas and she was not going to spend it surrounded by her extended family.

I felt so guilty for passing that horrible virus on to our elderly loved ones, and as a result it was going to be just the four of us for Christmas that year.

I cried.

And so there I was on Christmas Eve, my kids were asleep and I was looking at our living Christmas tree. It was a small Norfolk pine, about two-feet tall. Light, handmade paper ornaments hung from its large, but delicate, branches.

I reminisced as I stared at that little tree that we bought two years prior for my son’s first Christmas. I recall Brian Minter saying it probably wouldn’t last longer than about six months as they need the right amount of water, light and temperature to be happy.

I’m really good at neglecting plants, and I don’t know exactly how our Norfolk pine survived, but there it stood two years later as green and healthy as could be. It survived.

Three small gifts for each of the kids sat beside the tree, and tucked inside the stockings were a handful of toys.

It was a minimalist Christmas, and I was OK with it.

The next day, we feasted on comfort food of coq au vin for dinner and smoked salmon for lunch. We had fancy chocolates, panettone and stollen as treats, and our glasses were filled with mimosas and homemade eggnog.

I held and nursed my daughter throughout the day and stole cuddles from my busy toddler whenever possible.

I enjoyed the little things that year, like the soft breath of my baby as she slept in my arms, the paper sailboat that was our tree topper, and my two-year-old son shouting out “cheers to Santa!” as we raised our glasses at dinner.

It turned out to be a pretty great Christmas after all.

I made the best of that quiet holiday (as quiet as a house can be with a newborn and a toddler), and two months later my entire “big” family – all 12 of us – got together for our Christmas celebration in February.

As Christmas nears this year, I’m getting all the same feelings come over me again as I look forward to the little things that come with a minimalist Christmas.

Instead of a sleeping baby in my arms, I will probably have an exhausted toddler with her head on my lap. Instead of a sailboat atop our tree, we have a yellow paper star my son made with a ridiculous amount of glitter on it. (I’m still finding glitter on my socks.) And instead of cheersing to Santa… well, actually, I’m sure we will still cheers to Santa.

As you celebrate this very different Christmas with your immediate family, think of the little things that bring you joy.

We survived the Christmas of 2017.

We will survive the Christmas of 2020, and you will too. Just ask our still-living Norfolk pine.

Jenna Hauck is a multimedia journalist with The Chilliwack Progress.

RELATED: Read more opinion pieces, including letters and editorials online


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on?
Email: jenna.hauck@theprogress.com
Twitter: @PhotoJennalism

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

ColumnCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Delta City Hall. (James Smith photo)
Harvie, Kruger to represent Delta on Metro Vancouver board

Delta reps to sit on 11 of 16 standing committees and task forces

Record-setting high jumper Emma de Boer, who lives in Cloverdale and attends Holy Cross Regional High School in Fleetwood, will train and study architecture at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) next fall. (submitted photo)
Surrey jumper on a high after recruitment by UPenn track team

High jumper Emma de Boer aims to leave Cloverdale for Philadelphia next fall

The White Birch proposal for a six-storey rental-only building at 1485 Fir St. was turned down by council on Monday night. (Contributed rendering)
White Birch developer feels ‘betrayed’ by City of White Rock council

Application for new rental building at 1485 Fir St. turned down by council

Surrey RCMP Gang Enforcement Team street check. (File photo)
Surrey RCMP gang enforcement team seizes five vehicles

This was over 13 days, as SGET continues to target gang activity in this city

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
RCMP appeal for witnesses after hit-and-run leaves girl, 17, in critical condition

The Metro Vancouver teenager was found unconscious and critically injured after being hit: police

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

Most Read