Most of us right now are looking back with a variety of emotions at Christmas, 2020. But not retired San Francisco Chronicle humor columnist Nick Hoppe. He’s looking ahead. To Christmas, 2030, ten years from now. After all, he says, 2020 will only be a memory some day.
Scene: Dinner is over and I am sitting by the fire, my heart and stomach full. Everyone has left except for two of my fourteen grandchildren (it’s been a prolific decade). Little Tommy is nine, and Little Sophie is ten.
Little Tommy (climbing onto my lap): Tell us again about The Great Pandemic, Grandpa.
Me (groaning): Get off my arthritic hip and I will, Little Tommy. (He climbs down). First of all, even if you had been born, we wouldn’t have spent Christmas together.
Little Sophie: What? Why not, Grandpa?
Me: Because you and your parents might have killed Grandma and Grandpa by showing up.
Little Tommy (tearing up): Huh?
Me (patting him on the back): Buck up, kid. It was a different world in 2020. The Great Pandemic was raging, and no one knew who had the sickness and who didn’t. You couldn’t be too careful. As far as we were concerned, your parents were disease-ridden maggots.
Little Sophie: Couldn’t they test a person to see if they had it?
Me: Yes, but it took a few days to get an appointment and then you didn’t get results for a few more days. And by that time you could have got it from someone else or given it to someone else.
Little Sophie: That’s stupid. There’s instant tests for everything now.
Me: “Stupid” is not a nice word, Little Sophie. “Incompetent” is a better choice.
Little Tommy: Did you ever see my Mommy and Daddy during The Great Pandemic?
Me: Of course we did. We cheated, like everyone else. But we wore our masks and stayed six feet apart. At least some of the time.
Little Tommy (cringing): That’s weird.
Me: Everything was weird. Businesses were closed, sporting events had no fans, there were no concerts or movie theaters, and almost all of the schools were closed.
Little Tommy (pumping his fist): No schools? Yippee! Sounds good to me!
Little Sophie: You still had to go to school, you nitwit. You just learned from home by computer.
Little Tommy: Oh. That sounds awful.
Me: A lot of things were awful. There were no parties, no celebrations, no hanging out with your friends. Everyone just tried to get through it as best they could, and as safely as they could.
Little Sophie (changing the subject): Grandma said that for Christmas during The Great Pandemic you gave her a 12-pack of toilet paper. Is that true?
Me (chuckling at the memory): No, it’s not true. It was a six-pack. Toilet paper was very hard to find in those days.
Little Tommy: Did all businesses have to close?
Me: (tousling his hair): No, a lot of businesses did very well, like Walmart and Facebook and Google, and best of all, Amazon. The Great Pandemic is where President Bezos got all his money so he could run for President. It’s the restaurants and small retail stores that suffered.
Little Sophie: That’s not fair!
Me: The rich get richer, kid. Get used to it.
Little Tommy: Gee, Grandpa, you and Grandma and Mommy and Daddy must have really hated The Great Pandemic.
Me: We did, Little Tommy. It was the hardest year of our lives. But we were the lucky ones. No one close to us got really sick or died.
Little Sophie: How did The Great Pandemic end?
Me: Well, things finally started looking up around Christmas of 2020. The days started getting longer and this miraculous shot arrived that would protect people from getting the sickness. Other than having to watch needles going into people’s arms about 30 times each day on the television news, it was a time for hope.
Little Sophie: Ewww! Why did they have to keep showing that?
Me: I have no idea, Little Sophie. But it was a small price to pay for ending The Great Pandemic. Every day we had more sunlight, Spring was coming, and more people were protected. The Great Pandemic was running out of steam.
Little Tommy: That must have made everyone very happy.
Little Sophie (rolling her eyes): Duh.
Me (giving them both a hug): I couldn’t have said it better, Little Sophie….Duh.
Nick Hoppe’s latest book is, “Some Books Aren’t Meant To Be Sold: A Collection of Humor Columns.”