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A Very Covid Christmas

By Emmy Serviss/ Boston



The author celebrating Christmas in the Before Times
The author celebrating Christmas in the Before Times

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love the holidays. Halloween is my favorite day of the year, it’s true. But after Halloween, I love the entire month of December. I love how the weather goes from crisp to chilled. I love how the flavors turn from pumpkin to peppermint. I love how the decorations change from frightening to festive. And I love buying presents for all my loved ones, if I have the funds to do so, also my liked ones.



Memories of holidays in Boston


The problem that I run into is that usually around December 23rd, my jolly demeanor melts into winter blues. See, the holidays are usually a time to gather with family and be together and share memories and make new ones. But the rest of my family never really got into holidays the same way I did. (I’ll never forget the year that my Mom asked if she could make a chicken instead of turkey for Thanksgiving…I never fully recovered from that.)


So once I graduated college and moved across the country, the holidays sort of fell by the wayside. We would mail each other presents and get on the phone (or Zoom) but since I was the only one who really liked to celebrate holidays, flying back to New York never seemed to make much sense. I always found local friends to share an Orphan Thanksgiving with when I lived in Los Angeles and Boston, but Christmas always hits a little harder.



An Orphan Thanksgiving – Los Angeles 2006
An Orphan Thanksgiving – Los Angeles 2006

As the days in December tick away, people start traveling to see their families and I start getting a little sad. Not because I can’t see my family, because taking the train to NYC isn’t too hard a trip from Boston. Flying to see my brother in Mississippi is another story, but I digress.


No, I get a little sad because my family was never really the type to have big family get-togethers or long-standing traditions or recipes passed down generation-to-generation. Maybe it’s too many movies with picture-perfect holiday festivities, or maybe it was because my extended family all lived across the country. But I always felt a little left out.



I probably spend at least $100 on stamps each year
I probably spend at least $100 on stamps each year

When I moved to Boston, I met my two best friends: Angela and Andrea. Every year since 2012, I’ve had a standing invitation to join Angela and/or Andrea for the holidays. Occasionally I would travel to see my parents and/or my brother, but most years I stayed in Boston. It wasn’t too bad usually. I’d make matzoh ball soup for my goyim surrogate families, play games with Angela’s daughters and then once they went to bed, I helped wrap presents from “Santa.” (I even took bites out of the cookies and carrots on behalf of Blitzen and Cupid.)


Most years it was enough.

Christmas 2020, it wasn’t.


I had been quarantined with my (now ex) boyfriend for 9 months, unemployed for 8 months and falling deeper and deeper into a depression. But the holidays were a time for love and cheer, dagnabit! And I was determined to make it special for the two of us, even if we couldn’t be with our families. So I cooked a huge meal, decorated his apartment, bought presents, filled stockings, and attempted to convince myself that we were still happy.


Did it work?

No, not at all.

We broke up three months later, and it’s for the best.



Secret Santa exchanges are still possible during Covid!
Secret Santa exchanges are still possible during Covid!

But now that we’re going into our second Covid Christmas, it’s hard not to feel more alone this year than I did last year. My roommate left for her parents’ house yesterday, so it’s just me and the cats for the next few days. Christmas Eve I’ll partake in the time-honored tradition that my fellow Jews have observed for decades: Chinese food and a movie. Christmas morning, maybe I’ll try to make my sister-in-law’s recipe for Gooey Bottom Rolls.


I keep telling myself that I’m not really alone. Andrea is coming over to bake cookies on Christmas Day, and then we’ll join Angela and her girls for dinner later that night.


I know I’m not really alone.

But it would be nice if I didn’t feel that way.


So, for all those who are also feeling alone during our second Covid Christmas, I will share the heartache with you. And we can sit there together, as we wait for the spring to come again.


August (left) and Annabelle (right) enjoy a quiet holiday season with the author in 2021
August (left) and Annabelle (right) enjoy a quiet holiday season with the author in 2021

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