It’s understandable people feel a sense of loss about the upcoming holidays because they can’t celebrate with family.

But there really is much to be hopeful for in this pandemic — including the prospect of a vaccine.

I plan to be focused on seeing the glass as half full instead of half empty in December.

We will celebrate the holidays but in a different, more peaceful way.

I look forward to diving into my sun room closet to bring out gifts I have purchased throughout the year, and placing them in what my husband, Phil, calls Santa’s workshop. I’ll lay them out on a long folding table with wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, scissors and gift tags I create every year from Christmas cards we received the previous year.

I’ll wrap and box gifts that must be mailed out of state first, get them to the post office early and then focus on wrapping presents for family and friends. What will be fun this year is loading them into my car and delivering them on doorsteps — in lieu of exchanging gifts in person.


Yes, I’ll miss celebrating with others, particularly with family on Christmas Eve, but it is more important that we all stay healthy.

I look forward to writing Christmas cards long into the night as I do each year, when it’s just me and a cat lying silently by my side, deep in feline dreamland. Penning messages in this way helps me to feel close to the recipients in spirit, if not in person. I view cards and messages as little gifts in themselves, including those we receive in our own mailbox.

Hope will come this season in the form of anticipation. I look forward to watching holiday movies in the evenings as snow falls outside.

Every December, we watch some of our favorites: “Christmas in Connecticut,” with a charming, young Barbara Stanwyck; “Miracle on 34th Street,” with Natalie Wood as a little girl; and “A Christmas Carol,” the 1938 version with Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge.

We also will watch the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra playing Strauss waltzes in the Musikverein concert hall in that city — a venue we were privileged to visit several years ago and watch the orchestra perform.

Movies that are non-holiday related, but make us laugh, are part of our December mix. “Hopscotch,” a 1980 film starring Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson, is near the top of the list.


And, yes, there will be holiday treats to create. I’ll bake my traditional, almond-flavored sugar cookies with a touch of cream cheese, which lends a soft, moist texture. Mint chocolate crinkle cookies, dusted with confectioner’s sugar, candy cane chocolate chip cookies, and fudge also are on my annual baking list.

Choosing and trimming a live tree will be the icing on the cake. Isn’t it amazing how every year when we bring out the decorations we find some we forgot we had? And how, each Christmas, we declare our tree the prettiest ever?

The best part of the holidays, though, seems to have nothing to do with parties, gifts or food.

It’s when, on a cold December night as Christmas draws near, we sit in a darkened room and marvel at the sparkling tree throwing shadows on the wall and, in that joyful moment, believe all is right with the world.


Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 32 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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