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Editor, The Beacon:

Like many Americans wanting to hurl the cloak of COVID-19 off their shoulders, my husband and I had become complacent about the reality of contracting the disease. In spite of being in the vulnerable age group and possessing certain iffy, pre-existing conditions, we had begun meeting up with family.

Our grandkids enjoyed attending public school again, and others trotted back to work. However, the coat of COVID-19 continued to slip comfortably adrift, even after hearing the news of hospitalized classmates, and others who had lingered and lost to this mercurial, viral monster.

We tacitly allowed the skewed mentality of luxurious fantasizing: Wasn’t the vaccine already here? What about all of those touting they were carriers, and others who celebrated they had had COVID-19 but lived to talk about it?

Didn’t I have a friend who tested twice, was hospitalized both times, but still planned on a Louisa May Alcott Little Women’s Christmas? And, don’t I take immune-building vitamins that would make Charles Atlas proud?

Undoubtedly, I can combat an invisible enemy whose Latin derivative means “crown.”

Overlooking medical concerns, I sensed the joy of the net of denial tightening as I planned our Christmas brouhaha. Surely, we don’t need masks — I mean, my family shares my flesh and blood; doesn’t that fact give us group immunity?

Within a month’s time, two of our friends died, and not as a result of COVID-19 complications. They passed as a direct result of the virus itself.

The anvil of reality dealt its final blow to our Pollyanna picture when we heard about a treasured friend — Tom Russell — whose kind virtue was making people feel loved and welcomed — passed suddenly from COVID-19. With his untimely and unfair passing, the realizing trauma of life and death’s rare value and fickle nature hit us.

When I lowered the boom to our family about extending Christmas to the summer, they gasped, they groaned, but thankfully, they did not have a cow.

I told them, look on the bright side — we won’t be suffering the post-Christmas blues of putting away our decorations and happy tree, because we’ll bask in flickering red and green lights for seven months. We will grin and bear the electric bill.

In July, we will crank up the air conditioning and play “Feliz Navidad,” as we roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. We will ignite firecrackers, watch evergreen candy tufts and silver buttonwood bloom, dust off our presents and, most importantly, thank God we have our lives and each other.

Notwithstanding the glittering pleasantries of this a-seasonal Yuletide event, it may, however, be a challenge to return the sweaters from Target that no longer fit my grandkids.

Honoring the reason we celebrate this holiday on Dec. 25 will remain the same for us. The close proximity and festivity that accompany this day, however, will be deferred.

Still, surreal it is that in 2020, in Florida, John and I are giving Christmas a rain check.

Jill Clark

DeLand

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