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Christmas offers new, and needed, hope

Today’s celebration of Christmas is offering a birth of new hope, in addition to the most important opportunity of the day, which is commemorating Jesus Christ’s birth on earth.

Christmas 2020 always will be looked upon as the time when deep-rooted despair and pessimism regarding the prospects for halting a pandemic were replaced by evolving possibility and cautious confidence that ending the prolonged, deadly health crisis finally might be within reach, thanks to newly developed vaccines.

If those vaccines live up to the promise and potential that medical experts envision, the inoculations that will be forthcoming over numerous months will someday be recorded in history books as this Christmas season’s greatest, most wonderful non-spiritual gift.

Regarding COVID-19, despite federal approval of vaccines, the world isn’t out of the proverbial woods yet. There is the long time period needed to carry out the behemoth task of administering the vaccines to so many people here and in other nations of the world.

However, looking optimistically at the current situation, the end of the coronavirus seems in sight, despite being much farther in the distance than that for which people are hoping.

Still, with COVD-19 continuing to take lives while sickening others for prolonged periods of time, without even a Christmas respite, it is virtually impossible to heed the advice of a headline of a Christmas-related article that was printed in the Dec. 16, 2014, edition of the Wall Street Journal.

That headline suggested spreading cheer during the holidays “even when you’re down.”

But spreading cheer is difficult in an environment being undermined by an abominable health emergency.

Relaxing one’s guard even for a moment now is dangerous, as many people have learned to their dismay.

A 2011 article in the magazine Pittsburgh Catholic said, “There are so many triggers all around us, every day during the holidays, to release painful memories — music, lights, candles, decorations. Everyone else seems so happy and so busy, and I am so alone. I am OK one day and terrible the next.”

Many people who have lost relatives and/or friends due to this pandemic — or for any other reason, for that matter, during the past year — can be excused for being sad today, or for perhaps wanting to be alone to reflect privately regarding better times.

Fortunately, the spirit of Christmas is alive in this part of Pennsylania, despite the coronavirus and even if in a subdued way. However, unfortunately, some charities that depend on Christmastime generosity are feeling the financial pain that many of their traditional donors are feeling.

As Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote in the newspaper’s Dec. 26-27, 2015, edition, a half-century ago “Christmas was a plainer, simpler affair. Everyone — even the rich, but certainly the poor and in-between — had less.”

She went on to write that “you could make gifts. Or you could buy one after saving up, and the recipient could guess the sacrifice involved. And because there were fewer gifts, the one you got made a big impression.”

It might be foolhardy to suggest that COVID-19 today has been responsible for a significant retreat toward that earlier time, but the coronavirus has prompted some changes, without a doubt.

Coming days will provide an important picture of how Christmas 2020 played out locally and nationally.

Certainly, Santa Claus will be interested in that evaluation.

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