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

In September 2018, former Vancouver Canucks player Dave Babych tees off at Northview Golf & Country Club in Surrey during the 35th annual Jake Milford Charity Invitational tournament. (File photo: Tom Zillich)
No ‘shotguns’ or banquets: Surrey golf courses pitch COVID-safe tournaments for 2021

With spring on the way, course operators book tournaments that will involve ‘tweaks and adjustments’

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey council approves $420,570 in grants for local arts, culture groups

This happened at Monday night’s council meeting, to cover 2021

Surrey native Dylan Kinley, shown here with the Douglas College Royals, has signed with the UFV Cascades. (Douglas Royals photo)
UFV Cascades sign Surrey native Dylan Kinley

Tweedsmuir grad, Douglas Royals star joins Abbotsford-based team for 2021-22

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
OUR VIEW: Surrey’s public hearings are for being heard

Surrey public hearings of late have been devolving into something less than intended

Members of the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society picked up their new van from Mainland Ford in Surrey Wednesday (Jan. 27, 2021) after the society’s old van was stolen and damaged. (Submitted photo: Dylan Van Rooyen)
After thrift store van stolen and damaged, Surrey dealership helps out firefighters’ charitable society

The Community Thrift Store van was stolen in South Surrey in December

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

BC Place Stadium in a photo posted to cisc-icca.ca.
Roof of BC Place a stage for performers during online music festival

‘This will be the first time any artists have performed from the 204-foot iconic Vancouver rooftop’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

Abbotsford woman, 29, wasn’t injured in either incident

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Most Read