You are probably reading this during the Christmas season, which is considered a special time, at least for many people around the world.
The pandemic has brought the passage of time into an Alice-in-Wonderland moment, when it seems to blend it all together and create hazy moments when many people seem to have lost track of time. Just to reassure myself, I realize time is still basically the same – either flying by or dragging by or occasionally following my own rules. It is a time when people can stop and reflect, something that I need to do more frequently. Especially the stopping part. I tend to be on the move almost every waking hour. So, maybe this year I will be “encouraged” to stop and reflect about this season and what it might mean.
In my growing-up years, just a hop, skip and a jump ago, my family celebrated Christmas in the usual traditional ways: trees, decorations, presents and families getting together. Of course, in these pandemic days, getting together is not nearly as easy or safe as it used to be.
I remember it as a mostly fun time. Although the time one of my relatives imbibed a little too much Christmas cheer and knocked my little 6-year-old self and the Christmas tree into a heap didn’t seem all that much fun. I think it was the elbow to the nose that iced that particular cake.
Once I had children of my own with whom I could share the holiday, it took on new excitement and meaning. My wife and I would go to elaborate lengths to create special memories for our children, especially the youngest. Of course, now the youngest is 30 and oldest is 48!
For a while the 30-year-old was into tea parties. I remember that one Christmas when she was about 6 or 7, we got a doll and a Paddington bear and set them under the tree at a small table. We created a tea party, which, as a Christmas morning surprise, was quite a success. Two years later we took Paddington to London and got his tag stamped at Paddington Station; an event which I might call something that “overachieving” parents orchestrate.
As a kid it was fun to get a break from school as well as have the excitement of opening presents and playing with my many cousins. The pandemic has created a whole new series of vacations from school. If their school is open, it might be open with attendance reduced by having only a certain group, or cohort, of students attending at any one time. If the students are unfortunate enough to have been in contact with a COVID-19 carrier, they are then expected to go into 14 days (or some other of the often-changing recommendations) quarantine. All of this will make the 2020 school year either truly forgettable or memorable, depending on the kid’s outlook on life.
One of the ways this time of year seems to be struggling to remember is aspects of its real purposes; the acts of kindness that can sprout up despite the heavy weight of the commercialism which is frequently present these days. The season of giving takes on several meanings, and one needs to only visit the internet to discover one of the brighter and more touching. Thanks to the fact that we have been isolating at home for almost all the last 10 months, we have had plenty of time to explore the many examples of generosity of our fellow citizens.
There are a number of fund-raising websites, including GoFundMe, Fundly and Facebook. There have been many different causes that people have tried to help ranging from medical problems and expenses to helping victims of catastrophic fires to supporting great causes such as search-and-rescue teams. If you want to have an emotionally uplifting experience check out the YouTube site for “secret Santa, east Idaho news,” and make sure you have some tissues available.
The list of organizations that help create the great communities that we live in, could fill up this entire column. Habitat for Humanity, the Humane Society, Friends of the Library, Hospice, the Youth Mentoring program, and so many others all provide community support.
As I take a moment to reflect on the many blessings that have been given to my family and me, I realize how fortunate I am to live when and where I do. It is to everyone’s advantage to stop and consider just how much we have to appreciate.
So, I recommend that everyone take a moment to consider the joys of the holiday season and ways to continue the Christmas spirit throughout the year.
Kevin Wychopen is a semi-retired school counselor and columnist for the Enterprise. Contact him at email@example.com.