A few days past the winter solstice in the seemingly never ending worldwide pandemic, I am cleaning my house. In between running the vacuum across the rugs, and straightening the cluttered chaos of our everyday lives, I have been making tortilla soup, a tradition for the last ten or more years. Tonight, like last year, there will  be no friends and extended relatives laughing over food and wine as we talk about politics, literature, art, and the lives of our kids. Tonight, only our grown children, their partners, and our two grandsons will arrive to celebrate Christmas, a religion I don’t believe anymore than the pagan symbols the Christians co-opted as a sign of hope for a better world to come: a hope, during the longest night of the year, that the sun will return again. I try not to fear for the future: the never-before-considered collapse of the U. S. as well as the fear caused by millions of people dying worldwide from this horrible virus. Instead I hope, a constant prayer, that we can overcome our pettiness and hate long enough to step from this darkness, and find enough joy in our lives, in our children, in each other, to pass back into the light. So, I clean my house and make tortilla soup, in hope that I will do so again. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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