In London this season, there’s a strange air of pandemic defiance. Ah, we’ve been here before and we feel like we should know how to handle this. Jab up, mask on and away we go, right? But where to? It turns out that that’s another matter if your family destination is a country that is closed to foreign or mixed families like Japan, or more recently, France. Bah Humbug.
Covid in its latest reboot as Omicron is at best, draining. Like other families, we did our best to make do, taking a little timeout from pandemic politics in London by driving two and a half hours southwest to the Somerset region where we slept in Witham Friary and ate in Frome and Bruton. Or rather, as it turned out, ate and slept well. Laughed, watching silly modern takes on old characters like Pikachu from Pokemon. Such a tiny trip away and only for a couple of days but it felt like just the right amount of energy we needed to recharge, come back to the city, open a few presents and get ready for 2022.
We did learn stuff in the past two years. When Omicron first crossed the Channel, there was a little of what we saw at the beginning of 2020. Our frustration revealed the not-so-attractive bits about ourselves when we called the virus, South African. But futile name-calling vanished in favor of what the Christmas season always seems to be able to deliver, even if it is buried beneath the Amazons and Netflixes of our challenging modern times. Quarantining has perhaps, inadvertently validated the real meaning of getting together. We learned something big.
My South African friends tell me they recharge and prepare for the new year by celebrating #TheGoodwillDay, the day after Christmas which some call Boxing Day but a day the South Africans renamed to distance themselves from the colonial past and set aside a day to give to those in need. So in the end, I guess we did get a flavor of South Africa after all. We learned the gift of forgiving and giving, jumpers and coats, of course, but also hugs and talk and meals.
So may your coming Goodwill Days be filled with merriment and may you also supercharge your Pikachu energies and pass your warmth along.
Happy Goodwill Day!