By Noris Burkes Dec 20, 2020

In 2015, the British supermarket company, Tesco, posted a job opening for a “Christmas Light Untangler.”

Yup. Apparently, the lucky hire ran the store’s “Christmas Lights Detangling stand.” Tesco provided the free service as a place where customers brought miles of tree lights to be professionally detangled. 

Oh, how I wish there was a professional disentangler to help make sense of the messy maze of Christmas 2020. 

This decade opened with a raging virus and a hot election contest. Now, Christmas may be the most jumbled, tangled and twisted we’ve ever known. It’s no wonder the medical journals report mild depression rates as much as three times higher than pre-pandemic levels.

That’s why I take this opportunity to suggest a few ideas that may help detangle this very twisted COVID-19 Christmas. 

Hug Each Other

Before this pandemic, I must confess I hurried out of the house either to work or some appointment with just a quick goodbye kiss for my wife.

But now, I quietly slip out of bed nearly every morning and go downstairs. An hour later, I hear her coming down the stairs where we rendezvous on the bottom step. Given our 10-inch height difference it’s the perfect place to have an extended hug in her just-out-of-bed-warm furry robe.

If you have a pet, you can extend your hug time by embracing a friendly dog or cuddling with a purring cat. I don’t have one, but my neighbor lets me hug her dogs, Dobby and Logic. 

All hugs count. Virtual ones too. Becky and I set up a TV slide show to run pictures from past Christmas gatherings. Even hugging my body pillow is legitimate “hug time” if it helps me untangle my emotions.

Get hugs where you can, but please, keep them inside your quaran-team for now.

Preserve Normalcy with Routine

Years ago, I took an Air Force survival class where I heard some odd advice. Our instructor told us that if we were ever lost or captured, we should continue the normalcy of brushing our teeth, combing our hair, and shaving. 

This quarantine can make you feel like a prisoner. But unlike real POWs, you have choices. You can encourage morale within your pandemic pod by setting routines for sleeping, eating and exercise.

Dolly Parton recently told CNN that she maintains her normal schedule with a 3 a.m. wake up, prayer and meditation, and writing time. After which, she cooks breakfast in her usual high heels. 

Wow! That normal isn’t mine, especially the heels. I keep my normalcy in running shoes.

Normalcy means keeping your holiday rituals as well. Don’t hesitate. Go all out. Untangle the lights, wrap the presents, string the cords, decorate the tree or set up the menorah. 

The New Normal might require some innovation. For instance, my wife, Becky, has transformed her annual holiday cookie exchange into a Doorbell Cookie Party. Neighbors and friends are baking cookies again, but this time they are leaving them at the door all during the week.

Untangle the Funk with an Act of Kindness

Last week, a customer at the Dairy Queen drive-thru in Brainerd, Minnesota, committed a random act of kindness by paying for the customer behind him. The unsuspecting recipient repeated the act.  And suddenly, in unbroken succession over three days, 900 people paid the tab for the stranger behind them.

Giving can pull you out of the funk. We only further entangle this mess if we spend the quarantine just thinking of ourselves.

That’s why, throughout this crisis, I’ve encouraged those who are able, to increase their charitable giving. This means donating food through your local grocery chain and food pantry. It means giving more to faith-based benevolence funds. At least consider buying local restaurant gift cards. And give to charities who are in risk of failing.

For those who can, let’s step up in a small way and see big things happen., We may suddenly discover a way to help untangle this twisted world and find a brighter place on the other side. 

By the way, don’t bother updating your resume for the untangling job. I’ve checked the Tesco job site and they are no longer hiring that position. Perhaps it was because, as the Brits say, someone got “their knickers in a twist.”


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