No doubt about it, Christmas season 2020 is different from all the others we’ve had before.
The pandemic is still raging no matter how tired we are of all of it. More and more people we know have been hit and some have tragically died.
Although there is a spark of light on the horizon with the vaccine possibly coming soon, we have to remind ourselves not to let our guards down. The threat is still imminent and we can’t be reckless or complacent on the last leg of this struggle.
So, does this mean we can’t celebrate the holidays anymore?
We still can. And maybe because of this pandemic, we can celebrate Christmas as it should be celebrated: as simple and as meaningful as that night on the manger where the Reason for the Season was born.
This is the perfect year to go back to the basics and maybe lessen the pressure to strap on all the trappings and the luxurious expressions of gift-giving.
Many lost their jobs or businesses, have been through multiple typhoons and experienced illnesses and deaths in the family. People are just trying to survive with the bare necessities. Expecting family members and friends to still give as much as they did last year is bordering on delusion.
How, then, can we still have a jolly, joyful Christmas?
Well, jolly and joyful need not be extravagant or at the risk of hosting a super spreader Covid19 Christmas party. Hopefully, these safer, more meaningful, and more practical ways can help:
Spell out CHRIST in Christmas… always. No “X” substitutes. Really, it only takes a few seconds to type the word in. Not so much effort on our part considering the Big Guy died a horrific death to save our ungrateful hides from eternal torment. Even if you don’t believe in Him, you owe Him that at least, if you’re into celebrating the season He’s responsible for.
2.Rather than gigantic Christmas trees or elaborate decors, just make sure the Nativity Scene is there to remind us what this season is truly about. Our “Belen”, the Filipino version of the Nativity, can also be a way of celebrating our unique Christian culture.
3.Have your gifts delivered. You can still exchange gifts in the pandemic while helping delivery personnel earn their living. Don’t forget the Christmas tips, people! These delivery guys are like saving graces this pandemic. Make sure your gifts are sanitized and when you receive your gifts make sure to disinfect them first before opening. Have a sanitizing table ready for this process and put on your face mask to avoid inhaling the spray.
4.Go for homemade gifts. This is the time you have an excuse to be stingy with the budget for gifts. Or go with sending food and grocery items. Thousands have lost their jobs and livelihood is hard these days so even the basic food and grocery items, I believe, would be much appreciated. If the people you’re giving (or not giving gifts this year) cannot understand that, they need to wake up, watch the news, and come down from their pedestals of entitlement.
5.Want to be ultra-generous? Pay for their one-year Netflix, Spotify, YouTube Premium, online gaming, cable, or internet subscription accounts! This is a sure hit that would give you lots of loving emojis and stickers! For kids, transfer funds to their bank accounts or online wallets (truth be told, kids and teenagers these days are upfront in saying they prefer cash over other kinds of gifts!)
6.Create a photo collage of beautiful memories shared and send it to them. This is most beautiful especially for decades of relationships as you recall all the happiness, challenges, and triumphs you shared with these special people in your life.
7.More than material gifts, give the gift of presence – online presence, that is. Get into a family video call. For parents and relatives of kids or teenagers, play an online game together. Pretend you’re going to be hit by Covid19 (which really can happen to anyone at any time!), and record your short messages to everyone you love or have touched your life. There is no better time to do this. It’s like a reverse eulogy, a chance to say the things you take for granted just because you think you have all the time in the world. Maybe you won’t. Why not now?
As we anticipate Christmas this year, may we find meaning in simple gestures, and be joyful but mindful that in our wanting to celebrate we don’t spread the virus!*