Hector helping us keep out the coronavirus blues

Well it’s almost Christmas. Normally, I’d be preparing for a holiday visit home. I’d be buying gifts and stressing about a flight. I’d be stressing about the layover times and reading up on airline disasters each morning.

Ho Ho Ho.

Prague is usually quite charming in this season as well. Markets and music in squares, done-up trees, stands with ginger bread and hotdogs, and pools of carp awaiting a serious bludgeoning.    

But of course, the world is not in an ideal state. There’s a pandemic raging and you know that unless you live under a rock in a cave on the dark side of Neptune. Or you’re a Republican. Who also believe that though Donald Trump recently got his ass kicked in an election, he’s claiming he won it. He has no proof. He has lost 48 court cases. He still won’t stop.

It would be kind of funny to imagine little Donny stamping his foot and crying about the election, threatening to take his veto stamp and go home so nobody else can play government. But thousands are dying from that pesky virus each day and instead of helping any of them, little Donny seems far more intent on saving a face that has long since sailed off to a historical level of pathetic while he literally poisons a democracy that had been around for two hundred and forty years before he waddled into the place. Also it’s not funny because lots of people believe little Donny, not because he has zero evidence, but because they’re in his cult. They have hats. A whopping 27 Republican politicians have relocated their balls to admit that Joe Biden won. That means than about 220 congressional Republicans won’t admit that Joe Biden won the presidential election, which he did by 7 million votes. The election was more than a month ago. It doesn’t bode well.

In order to steel ourselves against the negative influences this year, we got a tree. Or, as Burke suggested, a big tree.

On Friday we walked to a garden center in a nearby section of town. We searched through the rows of trees and I watched jealously as people put them on the rooves of their cars and drove them home. I mentioned the pragmatics of delivery once or twice, but my points fell into the snow on the ground.

“This one,” she said.

“Good choice,” the man said.

We bought a stand and they wrapped the tree up in some kind of webbing. The woman said, “where’s your car?”

“We’re carrying it.”

“Ah,” she said, by the look on her face it was clear that she thought my Czech was failing me. She spoke a little slower, “but your car? Where is your car?”

“We’re carrying it,” I said again, mimicking myself putting a tree on my shoulder and trudging away.


Come on. Getting the tree is often one of the funny episodic bits of Christmas movies, so I thought, OK, this will be funny too.

It was.

For others.

The gaps in Burke’s plan kicked in as it became clear how clunky, heavy, and difficult to manage a Christmas tree is when you’re transporting it up a snowy hill and then onto a tram.

As the tram pulled up, I gave the tram driver a sad smile. Whether she decided against ignoring me or not, in the end she turned a blind eye to the idiot hugging a Canaan Fir like it was his prom date. It was a five-minute ride and I got some odd looks, but I’m used to it – the Czechs will give you odd looks if you smile or look too suspiciously content. I carried it down the street balanced on my head and my back. I cleared out a spot in the living room and placed the stand on a towel. And then we stood him up in his stand.

A Christmas tree has something magical. It makes sense that ancient people hung greenery in their homes during the winter months. It’s warm and comforting when things outside your door were scary, dark, or a republican. And sure enough, a tree in the home was supposed to keep away spirits, witches, and ills.

He named him Hector. And we combat the ills outside the door by decorating Hector while drinking hot toddies. We put on the Christmas episodes of our favorite sitcoms and we laugh and have fun. The cat finds that Hector’s needles make her puke like all other green, so she was happy. When we’re finished, Hector looks grand.

As cold and awful as it can get outside, a decorated and lit up Christmas tree surrounded by gifts is a reminder that things are going to be OK and that all things shall pass. Even Donald Trump and the coronavirus.     

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