A Thought for Christmas
The days before Christmas, for the Christians among us, are typically crammed with anticipation. We bake. We buy gifts and wrap them. We drink eggnog and hot cider and watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Love Actually” for the hundredth time.
But what has been typical in the past feels novel this year, as coronaviruses step back, re-form, and attack anew. Some of us believed climate change would be the battle for survival of the human race – and at some point perhaps it will be. Right now, though, as politics and polemics distort a public-health crisis and misinformed individuals scream about mask mandates and other assaults on their selfishness, climate change has been superseded by the threat that stands at our doorstep.
I love Christmas. Since he married me, my husband, who is Jewish, has come to embrace Christmas too. He doesn’t love the endless repetition of carols: Who can listen to Mariah Carey sing “All I Want for Christmas is You?” one more time? (Me.)
But he likes bestowing gifts on people he loves. He likes concocting elaborate meals. He revels in stringing the blue bulbs on the Norway maple that stands in the center of our front lawn, fussing over them until they throw their heavenly light. Like the star that, in legacy and story, led the three kings to the baby Jesus, they are a beacon on the darkest night.
Best of all, he likes that family, one by one, walks through the back porch and into the kitchen, luggage dropping, voice shouting ‘Hello?,’ arms spreading for the crush of hugs that gallops nigh, in an onslaught similar to the final nanosecond of the Belmont Stakes.
The coronaviruses threaten to steal those joys. So this is my plea to you this holiday season: seek out a test, rapid or PCR, and take it. Stay away from crowds. Wear good masks that protect you and others. Get vaccinated, get vaccinated again, get boosted.
Then hug your loved ones tightly. Rejoice in the wondrous gifts of this holiday season, of caring, of generosity, of patience and acceptance. And for the most elemental of wonders, sing praises for the miracle of each new day.
And remember the words of the 16th Century theologian Martin Luther: “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.”
No prompt this week; take the week off and listen to Mariah!