I finally found a turkey today. “Thanksgiving” will be a go (unless someone gets sick). But as I drove past the receding flood waters here in Abbotsford with my turkey in tow, another thought struck me. For the second year in a row, we would be missing family during the Covid Christmas season. Specifically, my mother would not be joining us.
My mother lives in Washington State, about two-and-a-half hours across the US-Canada border. Normally this isn’t a big deal. Normally, she would drive up the weekend after Christmas to see us. But last year was Covid Christmas Season #1 and the US and Canada had closed their borders. This year the border is finally open, but only for those who received their COVID-19 vaccinations. My mother has not received hers (for many reasons valid and otherwise).
The Pain of Being a Cross-Border Family
Covid has wreaked havoc on cross-border families. Our son Micah was born in March of last year. The pandemic had just started gaining traction. In fact, the hospitals began refusing visitors into the maternity ward only a week after they discharged us. To this day, Micah has still not seen his 할머니 (halmeoni – grandmother). Our oldest son, Isaac, hasn’t seen her in over two years. He still remembers her, but two years is a lifetime to a child.
I spent most of my life apart from my extended family. I lived in the Pacific Northwest. They lived either on the east coast of the US, California, or South Korea. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized how much I needed them. With my mother all that remains of my birth family, seeing my children unable to spend time with their halmeoni cuts me to the core. Seeing it happen during the Christmas season, even more so.
Managing to Find the Hope and Joy During the Covid Christmas Season
After I arrived home, I put the turkey in the refrigerator to thaw. And then I took stock of all the many little blessings we enjoy.
While the floods last week destroyed so much, the waters miraculously spared the home of my wife’s parents and sister down in the Sumas flats. It also stopped just short of reaching the home of our landlord’s parents.
Also, this year we’ll be celebrating “Thanksgiving” and Christmas with Kelly’s family. My mother won’t be there, but we’re still blessed to be able to spend it with family on this side of the border.
Finally, the past few years have seen so many destructive events across the planet. But even while we mourn, we remember that little boy born in a manger. We remember his advent and remain hopeful of the future that awaits us.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving and wonderful holiday season everyone!