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

Just Posted

(Clockwise, from top-left) Brenda DeJong, Carol Jones, Marcia Strang, Cathy Collis and Mark East star in the upcoming Sidekick Players Zoom presentation of the Norm Foster play “Halfway There,” directed by Carroll Lefebvre, on May 22, 2021. (Submitted photos)
Delta’s Sidekick Players continue ‘Foster Zoom Fest’ with ‘Halfway There’

Tsawwassen-based theatre company hosting another online performance on Saturday, May 22

Sergeant Mike Sanchez of the Surrey Gang Enforcement Team speaking with students. (Photo: RCMP).
Surrey RCMP’s anti-gang program goes virtual amid COVID-19 pandemic

Presentations aimed at youth available to be booked

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
Discussions about Surrey-owned land in Langley should be behind closed doors, councillors say

That’s what Councillors Brenda Locke, Jack Hundial and former Surrey mayor Bob Bose say

Little House Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery Society COO Debbi McKenzie stands in front of the society’s namesake facility with Phoenix Drug Alcohol Recovery and Education Society CEO Keir Macdonald. (Submitted photo)
Delta’s Little House Society merging with Surrey-based Phoenix Society

Merger ‘came together in a really organic way’ as societies have been working together for two years

Elsje Hannah stands in the old safe at the Healing Place Counselling Centre in the Dale Building. Hannah converted the old safe into a chapel-area for quiet reflection for clients at her practice, which includes the not-for-profit Soul Matters Counselling. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Not-for-profit counselling service opens in Cloverdale

Soul Matters Counselling is located on 176th in the Dale Building

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Mandarin Garden in Abbotsford had two event tents set up for outdoor dining. One of the tents, valued at more than $5,000, was stolen early Friday morning (May 14). (Submitted photo)
UPDATE: Dining tent stolen from Abbotsford restaurant is located

Owner says it would have cost more than $5,000 to replace the rented event tent

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Most Read