By Becky Nelson
Christmas time is always crunch time at the farm. We spend countless hours in balsam trees and brush, and we get weary. Having both toppled “over the hill,” the days seem even longer, the trees seem even heavier, and the help seems even more scarce than in years past. We have hired much more help than we ever did, but even so, it doesn’t seem to be enough and we work. And work. And work. And folks seem to be shopping for their trees and wreaths earlier than ever, so we scramble to keep up. Whew.
It’s sometimes hard to remember the joy and excitement of the season, as any retail worker can tell you. Long overtime hours, customers frustrated that they can’t find the right toy or the right ingredients for the fruitcake, and the season becomes a stressful time for many. Not just the workers in the stores. Being one of the most stressful seasons of the year, with the isolated and the lonely feeling even more isolated and lonely as revelers and those with big families around them party and gather, the season can be dismal for some.
The pandemic nightmare is not helping this season. The stresses and angst and loss that the pandemic has caused are not to be taken lightly. The stress of trying to do the right thing for yourself and others you come in contact with, the angst of hampered relationships with others and the fear of contracting the virus, the loss of income, social life, personal connections and in the worst case, loss of health or life weigh heavy on our minds.
Here in my own little bubble, I try to avoid much customer contact as I try to stay safe for my own health and that of my loved ones. It’s not an easy task, as we are very busy and all hands are needed on deck. And it is hard on me, as I traditionally revel in the season of fun and family and celebration. This adds another layer of worry, angst and trepidation on my part, especially as some folks still refuse to wear masks when shopping. I don’t understand those that say their rights are being violated by mask mandates. Their health, and the health of everyone with whom they interact in a day is what is being violated by an invisible disease that could potentially kill any one of us at any time. These folks risk not only their own lives, but those of everyone around them. I don’t see the minor inconvenience of a mask being a big deal when your very life may depend upon something as simple as layers of cloth. But I digress.
I can’t imagine the stresses being felt by those in the delivery system during pandemic Christmas. With more folks shopping online than ever before, the impact on those workers filling the orders, packing the boxes, handling the deliveries and those who supervise each and every step from the order to the delivery must be overwhelming right now. Stress.
In our own little bubble, wrap in a snowstorm or a blip in the weather, and the whole system is disrupted and the world turned on it’s ear once again as workers are pulled to plow snow and the fewer numbers of helpers are left to mitigate snow impacts and still help customers. Stress.
Stress, stress, stress. We need to grab and hold onto every little hope in this season of hope. A vaccine may be available in the not so distant future. The economy will begin to bounce back when we are safer from the virus. We may begin to travel without fear again by the end of next year. We need to hang on. We need to find little joys wherever we can find them. Those of us in the public need to stay safe and take breaks and walk away when those around us are harassing or angry or frustrated or simply downright mean. We need to find solace in the simple things, the stolen quiet times, the beautiful sunrises, the falling snowflakes, the very miracle of life.
Please join me in turning off the news once in a while. Join me in taking a vacation from social media, where it is so easy to be drawn into drama and so hard to recognize that the media/video world is a fake world. Join me in reaching out to those who need a virtual hug or a phone call. Join me in taking five to look at Christmas lights or read an inspirational message. Please join me in trying to make this most wonderful of seasons a little bit wonderful.
Becky Nelson is co-owner of Beaver Pond Farm in Newport, New Hampshire. You can contact her through the farm page on Facebook and Instagram, visit the retail store or email her at email@example.com.