Christmas This Year


It’s that time of year again, but there seems to be a little less scurrying about and perhaps not so much getting and spending. It’s a time which Bernadine Evaristo, in her novel Girl, Woman, Other, winner of the 2019 Booker Prize, refers to as “Greedymas.” 

For some time, the Christmas season in North America has been characterized by greed and gluttony, but this year people seem to be more thoughtful. Lots of people I know are giving donations to local social agencies. In one branch of my family, instead of doing the usual Secret Santa gifts, they are all contributing to a large family charitable donation to a non-profit organization that is helping with the current challenges.

Most people are doing much less travelling this holiday season, which is a good thing. Often people express concern about visiting older people who are “compromised.” It’s true that the compromised are more likely to get very sick and perhaps die if we contract the virus but, as far as I know, we are no more likely than anyone else to actually catch the virus.  The point is, you don’t want to pass the disease on to anyone, compromised or not.

The virus needs us to convey it from host to host. That’s why Dr. Henry and Minister Dix are telling us to stay home. Jane Godley says this more forcefully:

Being in a global pandemic makes this a very different holiday season. It’s particularly hard for people who’ve experienced losses such as loss of income, loss of work, lack of contact with friends and family, and anxiety of the future. 

Even without a pandemic, Christmas and other holidays are often mixed for older people, who are remembering happy times and are missing loved ones who are no longer with us.. This year many will be missing children and grandchildren who are unable to visit. Lots of people will be spending Christmas alone. It will certainly feel lonely, but there will be a sense of satisfaction in doing the right thing. At a spiritual level, it might actually feel inspiring. There may be a new awareness of Peace and Goodwill towards others.

Which reminds me, on a nostalgic note, that I have always liked the Christmas carol which is set to the words from Longfellow’s I heard the Bells on Christmas Day:

It’s encouraging to think that “The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, with Peace on Earth, Good-will to Men.”

Perhaps that might be too much to hope for. But poets continue to give us encouraging words. Recently, my friend Marian sent me this quotation of Leonard Cohen’s parting words from his Old Ideas World Tour in 2012:

May you be surrounded by friends and family, and if this is not your lot, may the blessings find you in your solitude.”

I can think of no more appropriate words for us at this time.

May those blessings be with us all.



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