TGIF: Christmas wish list takes different turn during a pandemic

Brownwood Bulletin
Gene Deason

People usually have a lot to do during December, but the pandemic has altered many of those plans. Nevertheless, Christmas is approaching, and many seem determined to make the most of a difficult situation.

Some celebrate a secular Christmas. Some observe a religious Christmas. Some do both.

The season is off to a running start as many in our area didn’t wait to finish Thanksgiving dinner before starting to decorate. Even the self-appointed “Christmas police” have set that aside — for this year, at least. We need the joy of Christmas now. We’ve needed the joy of Christmas for most of the year. So what, if we jumped the gun.

 It’s the first week of December now, so no one can be accused of decorating too soon.

Children learn early on that one of the first matters of business before Christmas arrives involves putting pencil to paper and creating a wish list. Whether it’s delivered by U.S. Postal Service or presented in person, that list is all-important. I might suggest mailing those lists this year, because we just don’t know. Many of Santa’s helpers who scatter across the land to talk to children personally might be in quarantine this year. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Some of us believe in Santa Claus. Some of us believe only in the spirit of Santa Claus. Regardless of what we believe, most of us tend to honor the tradition of Santa Claus in some way. Writing letters to Santa is one of those ways.

My parents encouraged me to look through the Sears Wish Book and find things Santa could bring me for Christmas. I would compose my list, complete with page numbers from that Sears catalog, and share it with my parents before they mailed it to the North Pole. When I got a little older, my Mom suggested that it would help Santa a lot to also provide the catalog numbers in that letter.

 I continued to write those letters for several years after my friends began expressing doubts about Santa being real.

My sister came along 10 years after I was born, so I got to help her with her wish list. Perhaps that’s part of the reason I kept writing letters of my own. Besides, why would I question the existence of Santa Claus as long as he kept paying off Christmas morning?

I can’t remember the last time I wrote a Christmas wish list, but that could change this year. There are so many things I hope for, and none of them will be found in some glossy Christmas catalog. Don’t get me wrong. There are several items I could find in stores that would be nice to have. But any list I generate this year will have intangible “things.” Perhaps they are on your Christmas wish list too.

At the top of any such list will be an end to COVID-19, however that can be achieved. Next in line is the restoration of the economy and employment. The arrival of vaccines gives us hope.

So, when those wishes are granted, what comes next — after we return to normal conditions and health?

We all have our personal wishes, but mine involves travel. One of the things I especially wanted to do after I retired was travel, but I was enjoying being home too, so I didn’t do as much traveling as I could have. It’s said that you don’t realize what you have until you lose it, and the flexibility to travel to other states or even countries without medical quarantines is something I’ve missed this year.

Last January, when travel wasn’t a health hazard, “Oprah” magazine listed “60 Charming Towns You Haven’t Heard of But Should Visit ASAP.” Checking off every one of them would require an extensive cross-country journey, and each town sounds inviting. Such a trip would also help me complete my bucket-list desire to visit all 50 states. I’m only about halfway there right now.

We all have lots to catch up on in 2021, so perhaps it isn’t too early to start planning. In the meantime, the decorations are in place and the Christmas celebration has begun. Let’s enjoy this joyous season, in a safe manner, and put a happy exclamation mark on the year 2020.      

Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column “TGIF” appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at