A week ago on a cool night, I was standing outside of my house, looking across the street at my neighbor’s window. I found myself looking at something that was, shockingly, the most normal thing I’ve seen in a long time. Before me stood a brightly lit Christmas tree. A myriad of colors sprinkled against a dark silhouette of the tree. Not surprisingly, it reminded me of the holiday season, and I started to see the parallels between now and winter break. During the two week break from the end of December to the beginning of January, most of us found ourselves stuck indoors, just as we are now. Over Christmas, many people unearthed Granny’s old cookie recipe and made a treat for themselves and their family. This turn to baking is now becoming a bigger and bigger trend during the quarantine.
This quarantine feels like a never-ending holiday break, except that there is no snow, it’s now sunny, and there are no fast-approaching holidays. We have always been able to entertain ourselves during the harsh months of winter, either through family traditions or enjoying each other’s company at home. During the stay-at-home period, we have collectively tried everything: cooking, baking, exercising, watching Some Good News, reading the books that have been collecting dust for years, shopping online, binge-watching all of the Harry Potter movies, watching every new show Netflix has to offer, buying Disney+ because we needed to feel the nostalgia of the safety of childhood, buying and building 5,000+ piece puzzles, singing karaoke in the kitchen while running in circles, running the Boston Marathon in our driveways, thanking frontline workers by clapping our hands at 7 pm just like in New York, and spending hours on Zoom calls, FaceTime, and Zombies, Run! All of these attempts to make us feel the same as when we used to leave our houses freely, go to school or work, hang out with friends, and grab a coffee with them later, failed. You can’t imitate the feeling of freedom.
Looking at that Christmas tree all lit up, as if everything was as it was supposed to be, I was reminded of that once a year feeling, the one you have when you’re sitting and watching the seconds tick down to the new year. The anticipation of something new, different, better. Of something that will make everything make sense. 2020 started for us with a new decade, and when we emerge from this quarantine, we will truly see what this new decade has in store for us. Before this, I felt that everything was moving too fast and that I couldn’t keep up. Now, it feels like I’m behind a glass wall watching half the world desperately trying to catch up with our old pace. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of us felt that way.
Everything is changing, and we have to change, too. This is the moment when we can all reflect on who we are and who we actually want to be. This is the time when we can manage to start to change. When we come out of this quarantine, we will be more grateful for everything that we have. Grateful for our friends, neighbors, teachers, and for everyone working hard to keep society afloat. Until everything starts making sense again, try finding your own Christmas tree–find something to remind you of the wonderful feeling of safety and happiness.