At Christmas, most of us sit down at a table filled with people, where deck chairs and piano benches are pulled up to squeeze in yet one more person. This year many people are setting a table for two.

This needn’t be a boohoo moment. If you live in the present, making this Christmas special is just part of life’s plan. Only two people means minimal compromise and loads of options. You don’t have to make a place for your mom’s grumpy brother (who doesn’t want to be there in the first place). You don’t have to cook three kinds of potatoes because each family wants what they had when they were children. And you don’t have to have your meal at 2:30 in the afternoon, so Uncle K can watch the game before arriving and Bruce’s family can drive home while it’s still light.

They say children make Christmas. They also bring the chaos, mess, noise, and fussy appetites. This year we can invite the child in us—have the fun and leave the turbulence behind. We can talk without being interrupted, hear the Christmas dinner music playing in the background, light the candles on the table and serve red wine in goblets without worrying about a little one toppling either with a tug of the tablecloth.

I look forward to cooking a turkey dinner with just the help of my sous-chef husband, and not a kitchen crammed with controlling women trying to take charge. I can cook the dishes I love, without including the burned turnip casserole Aunt Harriot insists on bringing or removing everything that tastes good from the stuffing because my brother doesn’t like the mouth feel.

During a zoom discussion several couple friends said, like my husband and I, their focus was making 2020 a romantic Christmas, replaying the good memories from our early days together – the winter skate on the pond on Christmas day, giving each other matching sweaters, sitting by the fire with Irish coffee, while making plans for the year ahead.

Couple time on Christmas day seldom happens, as entertaining guests, telephone calls, cooking and organizing take precedence. No, we won’t see our children and grandchildren, family and friends, but maybe during this precious quiet in the storm of Covid-19 we will see each other more clearly.

Christmas will be, as always, what each of us chooses. I won’t spend mine moaning, but grateful for a time of renewal, introspection, planning and moving forward. After all, the Christmas message is about being the best person we can be.

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