A Covid Christmas

There’s no way around it, and we have to face reality – if we don’t get creative, Covid is gonna take down Christmas along with everything else it has destroyed this year.

The whole world is in mourning, we can’t spend the holidays with our loved ones – the ones we are fortunate enough to still have with us, our spirits are lower than low, and many of us are broke and/or unemployed or both. Even this year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is sad. In light of this on-going crisis, celebrating anything at all seems tone-deaf. I get that.

When asked if he’d like to have this year’s tree, Charlie Brown said, “No.”

However, these may be the very reasons why we must acknowledge Christmas this year. But how?

Well, first and foremost, if you are a religious person, take heart. Even Covid cannot rob you of your traditions and observance of the holiday. You can sing hymns in your living room. You can still dust off your nativity set. You can say your prayers as you watch the Pope celebrate midnight mass on television, if that’s your thing. You don’t need my help or anyone else’s.

It’s the secular aspects of Christmas that seem impossible. But aren’t we entitled to a little joy and goodwill after the year we’ve had? If you’re game, I have a few ideas.

Christmas Dinner: Together Apart (The Potluck Tailgate Non-Party)

This is a little crazy and a little complicated, but hear me out.

You know you won’t be able to gather your extended family together for Christmas dinner, right? It will just be you and the immediate members of your household. But what if I said you could all enjoy the same dinner together but apart?

Step 1: Let’s say you live within a comfortable driving distance of some family members. In this example, there are four household in all. You and the “cooks” of the other households plan a menu for Christmas dinner. Each household is assigned food to prepare.

Step 2: Each household prepares their components of the meal. You save enough for your family and dividing the rest for the other three families.

Step 3: On Christmas Eve, you load your trunk with the food you’re exchanging and some gifts. Pick a place to meet – a parking lot, in front of one of your houses, etc.

Step 4: Pop your trunk.

Step 5: Each family, with masks on, takes a turn going from trunk to trunk, collecting their food and gifts. Everyone else must remain in their cars with the windows rolled up. You can take this opportunity to see the rest of your family through their car windows and wish glad tidings to all. No hugging, no kissing, no contact of any kind – no exceptions!

Step 6: On Christmas night, everyone can video conference together while they share the same meal and open their gifts.

And speaking of gifts…

Gift Giving (For Adults): The Fine Art of Regifting

There has never been a better time to “Marie Kondo” the living daylights out of your home. If you don’t know about Marie Kondo, let me explain: She is the author of many books about getting rid of possessions that don’t serve you. These have titles such as Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. In a nutshell, her philosophy is this: get rid of anything you own that does not give you joy. Side note: I guess Marie doesn’t take that same less-is-more approach when it comes to her book titles. But I digress.

You probably have a ton of things in your home that you don’t like, never use, don’t fit you anymore, etc. We’re not talking garbage here. We’re talking about nice things that someone else might like to own. Something that might spark their joy.

For example: let’s say that you hate to cook. Someone gave you a magnificent frying pan. It holds absolutely no allure for you. Give it to someone who loves to cook. They might cherish it. Let’s suppose you are a very conservative dresser, yet every Christmas, your Aunt Mimi gives you an article of clothing that can only be appropriately worn on the Vegas strip at two in the morning. Pass that along to your sister who loves a bit of glitz. Put thought into your regifting.

Transparency here is key. Everyone must know they are getting a used gift. Don’t try to hide it. As long as everybody is on board, it’s a great way to exchange presents without breaking the bank. And you know you’re just dying to have that old fishing rod your father never uses anymore. One caveat: avoid giving someone a gift that they once to gave you! Awkward!

Gift Giving (For Children): What Really Matters

I have seen parents twist themselves into knots when they can’t get “the one thing” their kid really wants for Christmas. If you bought a black market Tickle Me Elmo for ten times it’s retail value, I’m talking to you.

But guess what. There really is no one thing. Think back to last year. Do you even remember what you gave them? Do they remember? Do they still play with it? Did you go bananas and just buy anything and everything you thought would make them happy? Did it?

Think back to some of your favorite childhood Christmas memories. They’re probably not about specific presents.

The age of the child does make some difference. There are parents who think baby’s first Christmas should be an extravaganza. The gifts extend beyond the tree, into the living room and up to the ceiling. After they’ve opened all the gifts for baby, they can’t find baby among the ruins of crumpled wrapping paper and stick-on bows. The reality is, of course, baby doesn’t care.

Toddlers are easy. They will be happy getting a package of animal crackers as long as it’s wrapped in Santa paper. How many toddlers play with the boxes, not the presents? For my son’s second Christmas, we bought him one gift. It was a collection of plastic helmets from the Lillian Vernon catalogue (circa 1997). There was a fireman’s helmet, a motorcycle cop’s helmet, an English bobby’s helmet, etc. Total cost: $7.00. He played with those hats for years. I’d say we got our money’s worth.

Once a child learns about Santa, it gets a little more complicated. You could explain that Santa, like the rest of us, is having a rough year and might not be able to make all those Christmas wishes come true. But he certainly still loves everyone and will do the best he can. Kids are very forgiving when it comes to Santa. If they want to call Santa, or send him a letter/email, or even video chat with him, they can. It’s 2020, mom and dad. Make it happen.

It should come as no surprise that teens and ‘tweens are the most problematic in the gift-getting department. But they are more reasonable than they lead us to believe. They know what’s going on, even if they can’t fully comprehend it. You can enlist their help in your hunt for regiftable treasures around the house. Perhaps they’d like to give some of their own things away, too. And who knows? The experience might teach them something.

The bottom line with children is this: what they really love about Christmas is its magical feeling, the lights, the cookies, the excitement, and family time. When all is said and done, the one thing they really want is your attention.

New Traditions: Fun and Free of Charge

Perhaps you are a stickler when it comes to your time-honored family traditions during the holidays. Maybe you go to Rockefeller Center every year to see the tree. Forget that. You don’t want to be in any large, super-spreading crowds this year. And I already showed you the tree so…

Maybe you go caroling with friends every year. You can still do that – 6 feet apart and with your masks on.

Or maybe it’s time to start some new traditions. Here are a few ideas:

-Everyone gets in their pj’s, you whip up some thermoses of hot cocoa and you all pile in the family car. Drive around and take in all the light displays while singing along to Christmas music on the radio.

-Decorate the tree together as a family.

-Bake cookies together. Wrap some up and take a stroll through the neighborhood, dropping them off at friends’ homes with a little note.

-Have nightly entertainment. Gather round as you each take turns reading from your favorite holiday story, or watch your favorite Christmas movie. You can even go “old school” by listening to holiday programming on the radio like they did before television.

circa 1945: A family of four gathers in their living room to listen to their home radio set. (Photo by Harold M. Lambert/Lambert/Getty Images)

Do you have some ideas or traditions you’d like share? Please do so in the comments section below. I’d love to hear them!

However you decide to celebrate (or not – no pressure), may it bring you peace.

A message from Anita

Snorkers, I need your support!

Dear SNORK readers, we’ve been together for some time now. In fact, today is SNORK’s 7th birthday! I hope you’ve enjoyed our visits.

It has been my great pleasure writing for you. My goal has always been to give you a place to come that’s non-political, controversy-free and, hopefully, a space to hang your hat and put your feet up for a few chuckles. It gives me purpose and your support has meant the world to me.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus and Covid-19, I began making videos for you, with the intention of helping to alleviate some of our collective stress. I thought that having a human to see might make us all feel a little less isolated.

Those videos have blossomed into a full-blown YouTube channel called At Home With Anita Rosner, with lots more content than what you’ve found on this blog. I don’t post all my videos here because, frankly, they don’t always include the funny misadventures of my life – which is what this blog is all about.

That said, I think you might actually enjoy them! So, here’s the part where I’m asking for your support: It would be a tremendous help to me if you would subscribe to my YouTube channel. It’s free and easy to do. It requires no commitment on your part. It’s just a way of helping me to grow.

All you have to do is click on the “subscribe” button in the video below. It will appear in the bottom right corner about 30 seconds into the video. Or you can go directly to the channel here. That’s it! Your small gesture could help me embark on an exciting new phase of my life. I will still write for you, but if you like what you see here, you might actually enjoy being one of my YouTube viewers as well.

As always, I’m am so grateful to you for sticking with me all these years. Now, let’s get this second party started!!!!!

With love, Anita.

Here’s a sneak preview of my upcoming episodes.


Puppy Love

Back in 2007, there seemed to be some sort of fever sweeping through my friend group: everyone was adopting dogs. I couldn’t understand it. Why? All of our youngest children were finally starting school. We would have a moment to ourselves. Why would you bring another dependent into the house? A dog is a toddler that never grows up, I said. A dog will never be able to feed itself, I said. It will need walks, it will need grooming, medical care, it will bark, it will chew your shoes, it will pee in the house, it will steal food from the table…

You get the picture – I was not a fan.

My kids and my husband begged me, “Please, can we have a dog?”

Now, many people want to let others down gently. When they don’t want to say “no,” they say things like, “let me think about it” or “we’ll see.”

My response was unambiguous, “Over my dead body.”

Then, one day in the early summer of 2007, a strange thing happened.

My sister, Diana, and I were on the upper east side of Manhattan and passed the window of a pet shop. The most adorable puppies were in the window. And, yes, even I thought they were adorable because all puppies are adorable and I am only human.

Diana said, “Let’s go in…just to look.”

We browsed around. They had puppies and kittens, all looking cuddly and lovable, and heartbreaking in their tiny cages.

For reasons that remain unclear, I started asking questions:

Me: Do you have goldendoodles? My family has allergies.

Salesman: No, we only have purebreds here.

Me: What kind of purebreds are hypoallergenic?

Salesman: Why don’t I show you?

Never trust anyone who answers a question with a question.

The salesman went to an unseeable room in the store and returned with two tiny shitzu pups. One was the color of toasted marshmallows (which I love), and one was black and white like an Oreo cookie (which I also love). I have a sweet tooth. What can I say?

Without a word, he held them out to me. And without a thought, I took them.

That’s when it happened. It came without warning, I didn’t feel a tickle in my throat, or body aches of any kind. Nonetheless, I caught the fever.

The marshmallow was wriggling and squirming. The Oreo was totally zen. I handed the marshmallow back to the salesman and focused on the black and white fur ball that was now cradled in my arms. Like a seasoned pro, it nuzzled its little head under my chin. I was done for.

When I brought her home, my family must have thought I’d lost my mind, and I’ve never seen so much happiness stem from another person’s perceived dementia. After much debate, we named her Fluffy and she has been a beloved part of the family ever since.

After 13 years, Fluffy still can’t feed herself or walk herself, but she has never chewed our shoes (although she went through a period where she’d gather them like a nest around herself). She doesn’t bark. She doesn’t pee in the house. She doesn’t steal food from the table. Turns out, I’d been around some horribly “trained” dogs. She is nothing like them. She is my sweet, well-behaved little toddler that has never grown up and I could love her more. I have never recovered from the fever, and I never want to.

For Fluffy’s 13th birthday, I’ll show you how I baked her favorite treats. That’s love!

Creativity in the Contaminate Zone

Think outside the box.

Like so many people around the country, and the world, business owners here in the containment zone are taking a big hit. It’s devastating. There’s no way to sugarcoat it or make light of it. The only comfort is knowing we’re all in the same boat and we’ll bounce back together. We just need patience (not my strong suit), time and a hopeful look toward the future.

So, I have to give credit to the industrious individuals who are thinking outside the box. Here are some of the ways businesses are trying to make lemonade out of lemon-scented Lysol.

Toilet paper:

Since obsessing about toilet paper has become everyone’s favorite pastime, one genius marketer came up with a ploy to profit off the mania.

Imagine you’re down to your last roll. You’re feeling desperate. You don’t even have back-up newspaper or an old Sears catalogue laying around. So with a heart full of optimism, you search toilet paper on Amazon and this pops up:

A mistake? I don’t think so.

While some price gougers are trying to sell toilet paper to you for about $3.00 per roll, another company lists their shoes as toilet paper – and for a very affordable price, I might add.

What would your internal dialogue have to be to make this strategy work? “Hmm. I’m down to eight squares of TP but, you know, I could always use a cute pair of espadrilles.”

Appealing to people on lockdown with their kids:

Michael’s craft store is offering online shopping with curbside pick-up. Their website reads:

Stocking up on arts and crafts to keep the family busy at home?
Now you can grab supplies without leaving your car.

They will actually bring your purchase to your trunk so you can avoid all human contact. This is a great idea, depending on what you order. Let me offer a mommy tip here: do not order anything that involves glitter or permanent markers! You’re welcome.

New Cars:

It’s hard to imaging that anyone is thinking about buying a new car right now, but if you are. Chevrolet says “We’re here to ready to help.”

You can shop for your new car online and get home delivery (again, avoiding other humans and their potential creeping crud). Plus, for well-qualified buyers who finance through GM, they also offer 0%APR for 84 months and wave monthly payments for 120 days. FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m sure there is a laundry list of terms and condition. I won’t bore you with them here.

Cashing in on fear:

There are going to be a slew of commercials coming out soon for assisted living facilities. How do I know this? In addition to acting, I’m also a voiceover artist and I’m getting auditions for these left and right. And they almost all start out with phrases like ‘in these uncertain times.’

You’ll also be seeing lots more commercials for smart phone ultraviolet sanitizers, air purifiers, and the like.

The truth is, if you just stay put at home, respect social distance and wash your hands, you’ll likely be ok and so will your loved ones around you.

Now, a message from my heart:

I’ve been trying to keep people’s spirits up with these containment zone posts, and I hope I am. Sometimes it’s a struggle. I’m going through this just like you and it is stressful. My husband and I have been fortune that everyone in our family is healthy. Some of you have not been as lucky. You are in my thoughts every day.

I’d also like to say thank you to everyone who is keeping the world in motion. Thank you to those caring for the sick, stocking the grocery store shelves, providing gas, internet, and electricity. Thank you to the volunteers who deliver food to their elderly neighbors, and to the people walking their dogs who take the time to smile and ask, “How are you doing?” I’m grateful for the artists, musicians, and yoga and fitness instructors who generously post their talents online to give us all a little sweetness and keep us centered and motivated in these times of isolation and concern. And I am certainly grateful for all of you who take the time to read these posts and leave comments for me. It helps. So to all of you beautiful people out there:

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

xo,

Anita