So at last, despite five vaccinations, assiduous masking, etc. I join the Covid statistics. I’ve tested positive three days now, Elizabeth still negative, despite our living in each other’s pockets.

Symptoms are very mild. Fatigue, spans of coughing, that’s it, plus a little red line on the test kit. I’ve been prescribed pavloxid, which seems to help. In fact the whole testing and diagnosis has been a relief. I’d been lying down for short naps more and more, but just assumed that was simply old age rushing in as a king tide. Feeling the fatigue drain out of my limbs—with the pills but also with the excuse of the positive test—has actually raised my spirits.

Of course it’s hampered our social life, such as it is. For the moment we’ve canceled our daily trips to the gym, also a small neighborhood celebration of the Solstice. I’ve had to reschedule an eye appointment. But one advantage of having very little social life is that there’s not much to disrupt.

Christmas really isn’t a factor for us. We haven’t had a tree since being a pet-prone household—a rampant dog in Philly and now two cats. Our celebration of holidays—including our own birthdays—has always been irregular. Some ritual celebrations, certainly, but unconnected to religious belief.

I should say that I have deep respect for people’s religious devotion, insofar as it promotes human happiness and love. For me, religions are all based on myth, and their depth and beauty tend to be betrayed when, as often happens, people insist on their literal reality.

Christmas, for me, is about the celebration of birth. The story told by the anonymous author of the Gospel of Luke, who certainly wasn’t an eyewitness, is extraordinary. The humble birth of a babe who will redeem humankind—to me, every birth has that potential, every birth is a miracle. And part of that story is the slaughter that follows: the unending killing of human potential on the altar of power. The escape, the flight, the return, the very long trek from Galilee to Jerusalem and up to Golgotha. And a resurrection in our hearts.

That’s what it is for me. For others, it’s a memory of oppression in hideous Sunday School. Or the stench of religiou that’s corrupted millions of lives. Or an occasion for chortle. So be it. I’m only speculating as the virus surges in me, as the antibodies form, as I wait out the word.




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