Europe and the UK are entering another holiday season with COVID hanging menacingly over the festivities like The Sword of Damocles.
Christmas events across the countries in Europe hardest hit by the current wave are being canceled. The trip to Belgium we failed to take in 2019 owing to a French rail strike is this time being scuttled by the near vertical case growth in Belgium and the restrictions that accompany it.
In a shocking first, the government here has taken quick action in response to the new “variant of concern.” England has reinstated mandatory masks on transit and in public indoor spaces (but not restaurants or pubs, the places people tend to gather close and trade exhalations), and as of today will require mandatory self-isolation pending a negative PCR test on (re)entry to the country.
Against this backdrop, Dawnise and I hosted two other expat couples to celebrate American Thanksgiving on Sunday. It was the first time we’d had six people around the table in the year we’ve lived in this flat.
We spent the morning prepping our contributions, and when guests arrived we spent the day cooking, laughing, and quaffing wine before eating good food with good friends.
After dinner, we each took a moment to share some of the things we were thankful for over the past year.
There were a few shared themes. Being healthy. Having friends to share moments of lightness. Of having been incredibly lucky to find a life partner who’s a good partner – even after two years in near constant close quarters.
We played a few games before parceling out the left-overs and saying goodnight. One couple caught a cab home to their place a few miles east, and the other covered the few blocks that separate us on foot.
After putting the ovens into self-clean mode, loading the dishwasher, and washing the handful of things that needed it we adjourned to the sofa and found something funny to watch before turning in for the evening.
It was a poignant reminder of the sort of thing we used to do fairly regularly, and the sort of thing I sincerely hope to do with increasing regularity in the future.
And something I will do my very best to not take for granted.