Last month I reflected upon how different Thanksgiving 2020 would be, essentially dipping into self-pity since it really is my favorite holiday of the year. Looking toward the December holidays, though, feels slightly less daunting. Growing up, my family didn’t have many annual traditions when it came to celebrating either Christmas or Chanukah. Food and a few casual parties were involved, of course, but other than that, my parents had a “take it or leave it,” attitude when it came to doing the same thing year after year. We didn’t wait for specific days to exchange presents: if one of them saw something they thought my brother or I would like, they would buy it and give it the same day instead of waiting. Some years we’d pick up and travel instead of staying home and sometimes during the college years, my parents would do their thing and my brother and I would do what we wanted. It wasn’t until I married and had children of my own did all of that change. My wife is a steadfast traditionalist when it comes to the holidays and she likes making the same foods she grew up with, exchanging gifts on the actual days for which they were intended and celebrating with all the family and friends she’s known forever. For the last few years, I managed to convince her to go on a family vacation and even though she agreed, she did so rather begrudgingly. Not that she doesn’t enjoy traveling, but going anywhere around Christmastime is always more chaotic and crowded and being gone a week or two beforehand undoubtedly means that everything holiday-related still has to get done, just earlier and with a heightened sense of stress and urgency. But this small compromise, as it were, to get out of town for a bit, has been rather successful. Last year we traveled to Mexico with my in-laws, remembering to pack the boys’ presents along with our passports. The year before that we found ourselves zip lining over the jungles of Costa Rica, returning to Los Angeles on December 23rd and then scrambling to host a family brunch two days later. Going to Costco the day before Christmas to find lox is no easy feat. The parking lot alone is enough to send any sane person crazy.

The one December holiday we all can agree on that is way too important to miss is New Year’s Eve. This is one event that all five family members invite whoever we want to come over and ring in the new year. Friends we might not see too often during the other months know that on December 31, it’s time to put on some over-the-top fancy clothes and start dancing. The tradition I grew up with that we still continue to honoris a few minutes before 12, everyone runs outside holding pots and lids and pans and spoons and at the stroke of midnight, we ring in the new year with loud banging of these pots and pans(sorry, neighbors). Adding to that legendary and euphoric tradition of welcoming the new year is a relatively new addition that our boys started several years ago: after banging the pots and pans, they jump into the pool with all their clothes on and now most of their friends do, too. New Year’s Eve in our house is no joke. We do not mess around.

Of course none of that will happen this year unless Covid magically disappears. There will definitely be no pre-holiday international travel or any big parties to usher in 2021. But accepting that what is different is now what we are pretty good at doing. We’ve managed to somewhat adapt to all other changes this year and December is no different. And as much as I’ll miss the idea of a big, overblown, chaotic, messy party, there’s a part of me that is looking forward to abandoning all the stress that comes with the holiday season and hunkering down at home. Yes it will be quiet and subdued and I absolutely miss seeing our extended family and friends but there’s also something rather relaxing at the thought of doing nothing, too.

The one thing that remains the same though, despite all that is different this year, is the enduring gratefulness I feel for remaining healthy. I know not everyone can say the same and my heart goes out to you if you or one of your loved ones have suffered from either Covid or any pandemic-related issues. We have all been stretched to our limits this year emotionally, physically and possibly financially. If you have had kids home from school then you have likely suffered some mental breakdowns, too. I sincerely hope 2021 is a better year for all of us and a cure to Covid comes soon. If there is anything you may need, either real estate related or otherwise, please know as a neighbor and friend that I am always here for you.

Hope you manage to have a festive holiday season and cheers to a very happy and healthy new year!