Everyone celebrates holidays differently and show their affections and feelings in various ways, but for me this year and every Christmas moving forward may become interesting in the manner I celebrate. Maybe COVID-19 has changed the way folks approach this time of the year, where using the pandemic as an excuse changed everything. Is celebrating holidays a thing of the past?
Under usual circumstances, Santa Claus would be expected to enter millions of homes to bring the presents to families so expected need and desired. So, there are multiple issues and questions.
Should Santa enter homes in which a person with COVID-19 is residing or should those residences be excluded? Should Santa require documentation of recent negative COVID-19 RNA testing of all persons living in each home to decide if it is safe to enter? If so, how would that information be conveyed to Santa? Would the results of the tests be placed on the top of the chimney? How would Santa make it clear that such testing was even required? Perhaps an even more fundamental question, is it really fair or appropriate to exclude homes in which people are suffering from COVID-19 if people in such homes are more in need of Santa than ever.
A more practical issue is whether Santa will even be allowed to travel across countries….
Or will he be required to self-quarantine for 14 days when travelling and follow all the protocols that goes with travelling over the holidays. This new strain called omicron has set the global travel back substantially and many folks have cancelled their vacations. It seems as though we take two steps forward and fall back ten, where travel at this time of the year for many is crucial and important for their sanity.
Christmas, more than any other season, is a mix of memories and hopes. Memory of Christmases past and of the people who filled them. Hope for renewal in our hearts of the spirit of peace on Earth and goodwill toward men. And certainly, with the shadow of COVID-19 hanging over us all this Christmas season, our minds seek out comforting memories from years past and ache with hope that future Christmases will be brighter.
This Christmas, it may be hard not to feel a little Grinchy. But before you say, “Bah, humbug,” and try to fast forward into the new year, look for ways to find some fun during the holidays. The pandemic may mean your Christmas won’t look exactly the same as it usually does, but you can get creative and find some new ways to celebrate – and some of your ideas may be so good you’ll make some new traditions along the way. Whichever way you go, the idea is to try and go back to some sort of normalcy and enjoy the upcoming holiday season.
Are we trying to force a round peg into a square by trying to fool ourselves that we should be happy at this time of the year? COVID-19 has put a real damper on special occasions and holidays and has put the global community in a funk that we never get out of and celebrate like we use to. For me it seems as though Christmas this year just feels like a blank or a black cloud affecting this holiday. The phrase that was coined as black Christmas is just like what it feels right about now.
This is not the first time that a pandemic has gripped the holiday season. In December 1918, preparations for the first Christmas without war in four years took place in the midst of the worst pandemic since the Black Death. The 1918-19 influenza, like COVID-19, came in waves. The deadliest began in autumn, peaked in late November and continued through the first weeks of December. It struck hundreds of millions and killed tens of millions worldwide.
I don’t see a similar fate yet, but it sure feels like it with doom and gloom and the rules and regulations seem to be changing on a regular basis. There have been similar influenza outbreaks in the past, but this COVID-19 variant and all the associated strains have had a much bigger devastation to mankind than previous viruses.
But while there are similarities between pandemics – as highly infectious respiratory diseases that spread in waves – there are also important differences in the contexts in which they developed, in efforts to control them, in their impact on healthcare systems and how people learned to live with them. People celebrating Christmas and other seasonal holidays in 1918 faced nothing like the restrictions people will face this year. The reasons for this difference are many, looking at a few can offer some lessons.
Every pandemic is a step into the unknown. We need to bear in mind differences on how world’s influenza and COVID-19 emerged, the state of medical and scientific knowhow, health care infrastructures and the capacities to respond. Looking backwards should remind us that each pandemic brings with its unique problems that require unique solutions.
Today we are in a far better position to tackle a pandemic then ever before. But as 1918 shows, even with the best available medicine and science, communities and nations have to learn to live with epidemic diseases.
Black Christmas or NOT… we must learn to cope, but invariably let’s be good to each other and make Christmas every day…. not just on December 25.