We do not want any gloom and doom this holiday season.

Everywhere I go folks are in an optimistic mood, looking forward to time with friends and family, making plans for a “normal Christmas,” filling their shopping carts with ingredients to bake all the holiday favorites, putting up an overabundance of decorations.

Disruptions in the supply chain may slow us down, but they will not stop us in our plans for a wonderful holiday. We need this. The news will not be the Grinch that stole Christmas.

Churches are planning their holiday worship events, companies are scheduling office parties, grandparents are making travel plans. We need this.

When word of a new variant began to spread like a virus, I just wanted to ignore it. The news on television is filled with leaders saying we don’t need to panic yet, while they sow the very seeds of panic.

My advice, which is only worth a little, is to remain calm and know that this year is far different from last year before anyone was vaccinated. At that time all we really had was face masks and social distancing, washing our hands, and using plenty of sanitizer.

For my family, the holidays went completely awry, with little resemblance to our normal celebration of friends, family, and faith, but fortunately all was well in the end.

Following our Thanksgiving dinner last year, one of the family members gathered at the table tested positive for Covid. The rest of us started our quarantine amid worries and doubts about our decision to gather and concerns about those of us who were medically vulnerable.

But we were still determined to celebrate together as a family for Christmas once the quarantine was over. Fortunately, no one else tested positive and we were set.

Those last two weeks, we were out and about, shopping and preparing for our feast and time together.

I bought some festive holiday masks to wear as I made my rounds to find a turkey, buy wrapping paper, and all those little details. But still that nagging little voice kept asking, should we really gather?

I answered yes and forged ahead.

My daughter and her family joined long lines to get Covid tests before they came to stay at our house on Christmas Day. Once they tested negative, we felt positive.

My son and his family got last minute doubts after being around a gathering with guests from faraway places, some from other countries. So, at the last moment they decided it was best they not come, to make sure no one was put at risk.

We decided they would Zoom in for our celebration from their house. Since they live close by, we loaded up all their gifts and took them over. Then when the Christmas dinner was ready, I served their plates, and they came and picked them up. We chatted in the driveway and were glad even for a few minutes together.

After dinner, we set up a computer and sent them a Zoom invitation. As the computer whizzes in the family worked with that new Christmas task, the small grandkids could not wait a single minute longer to open a gift.

Our 1-year-old granddaughter ripped off the wrapping to reveal twin baby dolls, Luke and Lucy.

They were tightly strapped down to their packaging and we did what we always do and asked Harry, aka Papa, to get out his pocketknife to help.

My husband is one of those guys who does not get out of bed without his pocketknife, a trusty Swiss Army knife that is small and no frills.

He always has it with him. He has even been known to end up at the airport with it in his pocket and have to hide it in a potted plant, with hopes it would still be there when he returned from his trip.

In all the years I have been married to this man, I have never witnessed him cutting himself with it. But this time things didn’t go so well.

The knife slipped and suddenly blood was gushing out of his hand is spurts all over Lucy, Luke, and my white living room rug.

We all ran to the kitchen, with grandchildren thinking he was about to die, and me wondering how we would fare at the emergency room on Christmas Day.

Luckily, he got the bleeding stopped with cold water. It was a small entrance wound but must have hit an artery.

We gathered back around the tree, and suddenly realized, that through all the upheaval, my son’s family was waiting on Zoom with no clue of what was going on.

This year, despite omicron, I am counting on a holiday filled with peace and calm.

We all have our vaccines, I have dusted off my holiday masks and refilled the sanitizers, our doctors are armed with more knowledge and weapons than last year to fight this endemic pandemic.

Things may not be normal, but they are a lot better.

Rebecca Johnston is a lifelong Cherokee County resident and former managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune.

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