BY R.L. WITTER
It’s been a tough year. So many of us are dealing with uncertainty, grief, loss, financial insecurity, and then there’s the loneliness and separation fatigue. I am blessed to live around the block from a couple of family members so I’ve seen them as my husband and I have passed their driveway on our evening walks. We’re grateful to have the opportunity to wave and chat for a few moments from a distance before continuing on our way; but it’s nothing like the laughter we used to share over card games and dinner. And we haven’t hugged each other in so long.
As if the pandemic wasn’t enough, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery were heavy on our minds this year. Their deaths were a stark reminder that Black America experiences all of the hardships the rest of America faces, and then some. Their deaths, particularly Floyd’s, struck a nerve with the rest of America, too. And the timing was seemingly serendipitous as we took to the streets in protest—something undoubtedly bolstered by the fact that so many were unemployed and schools were closed because of the pandemic.
We watched protective masks become a political issue, saw a rise in the boldness of white supremacist/ terrorist groups, and many of us scratched our heads and tried to figure out how $1,200 was supposed to last the average American six months. Oh, and there was an election, too! The current administration tampered with the U.S. Postal Service, discredited mail-in voting, sued to try to overturn the election results, and STILL hasn’t conceded the race despite losing the popular vote by almost 8 million votes. It’s surreal.
This holiday season has been decidedly different. The traditional joy of the season has widely been replaced with a sense of austerity. Many of us are struggling to deal with the empty seats at our tables whether due to people not traveling, or the harsh reality of loss. For many of us there will be neither a gathering of loved ones nor a sumptuous, holiday meal. There might not be any presents underneath the tree; there might not even be a tree.
But it’s still Christmas. It’s a message we all need to hear and appreciate. Christmas isn’t about the presents, food, gatherings, or holiday lights. This year is a great reminder of the true blessing of Christmas: the gift God gave is in our salvation through His son, Jesus. Sure, it’s easy to focus on what we lost or what’s missing this year, but it won’t change anything or make our lives more joyful or meaningful. Of course, I like the other holiday stuff, but I need God, His Grace, and my faith to make it through.
May His grace and mercy comfort, strengthen, and bless you and yours this holiday season, and always.