After a year of hope, canceled Christmases deliver a bitter blow

I was munching on nachos at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City three days before Christmas when the text from my mother made my phone rumble.

“Are you anywhere you can call me?” she wrote.

I didn’t have to. I knew what was up.

My stomach had sunk a bit on Dec. 17 when I saw that the “Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes” was closing in Manhattan due to the fast-spreading omicron variant of COVID-19.

I had flashbacks to March 2020 when the world shut down, but my first thought was about the coming Christmas. After not holding a big family gathering on Long Island last year, we were going to be making up for it this year.

Delaware Online/The News Journal reporter Ryan Cormier (right) celebrates Christmas with his mother in 2015.

I had decided to take a mini-vacation in Atlantic City before driving north for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of filet mignon and baked clams, which is always the best meal of my year.

As it turned out, the overpriced casino nachos would be my big fancy meal for the holiday.

“I’m getting dinner. What’s up?” I wrote back to my mom, bracing for news that would make only The Grinch smile.

“Miles has Covid,” she responded. “Christmas is canceled.”

As it turned out, eight of the 16 people who were set to attend that dinner tested positive for COVD-19. They were also the ones hosting and, thankfully, no one has severe symptoms.

For a second year, the magic of Christmas was stolen from us.

Santa Claus brings up the rear in his traditional spot concluding the 57th Annual Wilmington Jaycees Christmas Parade on Nov. 27. On that day, Delaware had 242 new COVID -19 cases. By Christmas Day, the figure skyrocketed to 1,554.

There were no gifts to open. No goofy hats for silly photos. And worst of all, no quality family time after nearly two years of being apart.

And we weren’t alone.

There were many variations of that same story across our country and our state this year, just judging on my own social circle and social media. Several were sick with the virus and others had tales of their family gatherings being torpedoed by the pandemic, as well.

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