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Christmas 2020 will be like no other I have ever experienced in my 68 years. What I want Santa to bring is a vaccine. Soon.

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I've got all my decorations up, inside and out, and, on the surface, everything looks normal. But it's not.

Every day, when my husband comes home from work, I wait for him to complete his stripping routine (outside on our screened-in porch) and run to the shower before we can have a conversation. A lawyer, he comes into contact with clients daily and goes to multiple courtrooms locally and in other counties. His shower routine hopefully rids him of any germs he may have picked up on his clothing and person during his workday. The clothes stay outside for at least 48 hours before they're brought inside for a hot-water wash.

The fear of him bringing home COVID-19, despite wearing a mask and making sure everyone he talks to wears masks, is real.

Still, I'm trying to keep my holiday routine as normal as possible. Three of my grandchildren live next door, and their world has changed dramatically. As a result of COVID-19, they're learning virtually at home and come in little or no contact with friends.

Keeping things normal during the holiday season begins with decorating, and I go all out. I decorate inside and out, as well as the woods that link our property to the property next door, where my daughter and grandchildren live.

This year, though, there's been a cloud hanging over me throughout my decorating process. The "cloud" is a constant worry that someone I love will contract COVID-19.

Every day, here in Hamilton County and nationwide, it's getting worse. More and more people I know are either contracting it or being exposed. The virus is out of control. Every time you walk out your door, you are taking a risk.

It's kind of hard to be all holiday happy when you're living in a pandemic, but the power of positive thinking helps.

Our Thanksgiving celebration was my trial run for Christmas. Though very different this year, we had seven people instead of our typical 35 to 40, and we enjoyed being together. Respecting the advice of COVID-19 experts, we dined outside at tables placed 6 feet apart. We used paper plates and cups so that I wouldn't have to touch everyone's dishes when cleaning up.

And though it was just our "bubble" (my husband, oldest daughter and three grandchildren) plus our youngest daughter and her boyfriend, we knew we were lucky to have one another.

The Christmas holidays are already so different for me. I haven't stepped foot in a store to shop, and I'm a shopping maniac during the holidays. But, because of my age, 68, and the number of positive cases and deaths dramatically on the rise, I'm not going anywhere. My shopping has been exclusively online.

I miss the stores, the crowds, the holiday festivities, the parties, the restaurants, family and friends. If staying home, wearing a mask when I do go out (to the doctor and curbside pickup) will dramatically lessen my chances of contracting COVID-19, it's what I'm going to do. I want to be around to watch my grandchildren grow up, so I will do what I have to do to be safe.

I hope my readers do the same.

Email Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com.

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