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Magical Expectations of the Holidays

By Tammy Donoho

♪♪You better not cry, you better not pout♪♪!  Easier sung then done during a pandemic!  

I’ve placed my online order and I’m on my “merry” way to pick up groceries for the holidays. I park my car, wait for the attendant to bring out my order and find myself “people-watching”. Are there smiles hidden beneath those personal protective masks? 

Listening to music of the season my mind wanders and my emotions volley between cheerful and melancholy as the essence of the music influences my mood. ♪♪City sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style♪♪. Humbug! I resent the possibility of putting myself and others at risk. I want to go shopping amidst the hustle and bustle of a crowded mall, glittering with sparkly decorations! I want to bump into friends I haven’t seen for a while! 

I am so disappointed! If I feel this way, I can imagine that children and teens may experience varying degrees of disappointment as well. 

I continue to listen …♪♪It’s the most wonderful time of the year♪♪

I find myself reflecting on past holidays. The excitement I felt as a child, and the pure joy of watching my own children enthusiastically immersed in holiday magic. I also reflect on the holidays that were more of a struggle. The first year my parents separated and the first year my children had to face the reality that their mom and dad would no longer celebrate the season together. I’m remembering all the loved ones I’ve lost and will miss this holiday season. 

Unexpectedly my disappointment morphs into sadness as I empathize with so many others who will face the holidays homeless, struggling financially, dealing with food scarcity, fighting addiction, managing mental health issues, incarcerated, unemployed, ill, or separated from their families. 

♪♪It’s the most wonderful time of the year♪♪ may not be the reality for everyone. However, there is comfort in knowing that we can turn to each other for help and encouragement, especially during these trying times as we unite in our battle against Covid-19 and social injustice

Considering all of the hardships we face, I am reminded of a quote by Wesley Morris, The 1619 Project, “And yet what you respond to in Black music is the ultimate expression of a belief in that freedom, the belief that the struggle is worth it, that the pain begets joy, and that that joy you’re experiencing is not only contagious, it’s necessary and urgent and irresistible.” 

Help for the Holidays:


The holidays can be difficult in the best of times and this year brings new challenges. Together as we navigate uncertain times, let’s hold onto a bit of that childlike anticipation as we look forward to the season with hope and gratitude.  

From A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, “It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.”


Photo courtesy of Pexels – cottonbro