South Shore Breaker - 2021-11-24


We need more good cheer than ever to celebrate our second COVID Christmas



As I am writing this column for late November, I can’t help but wonder where the past year has gone. But here we are on the cusp of another holiday season and next month this time, we’ll be knee deep in all things Christmas. Sadly, it also looks that we’ll be celebrating our second COVID Christmas. But do you know what? We can’t let that get us down. We can’t allow that reality to ruin the season for us or take away the chance to celebrate what the season truly means to us. It’s during trying times such as this that we must take stock of our lives and embrace those things that are near and dear to us while, at the same time, let go of all those darker things that have not only monopolized our every waking thought throughout the past 12 months but have also conspired to tear us apart. The Christmas season is the ideal time then to pull together with friends, family and neighbours and turn away from the darkness and find the light. You can interpret that observation as you wish. If you are a spiritual person with deeply held religious beliefs, I’m sure the light will mean something completely different than it does to those who may not have a similar deep-seeded faith. But that’s okay because if you don’t hold any particularly strong religious beliefs that light can be something else such as your loved ones and your family traditions. Regardless of where you find that respite from the darkness, Christmas is the time of year to celebrate and observe all that is good in your life so let’s do that this week. With Christmas being one month out, let’s think about those things that are near and dear to us that make us smile, give us peace, give us joy and make our hearts sing. The reality is that we all have trials and tribulations. We all face challenges and we all have obstacles that we must overcome; some worse than others. And it goes without saying that humanity has had more than its fair share of darkness over the nearly two years since COVID arrived on our shores, but let’s put that behind us for a while. Let’s find that inner strength to smile and rejoice in the season. So, what do the holidays mean to you? For me, the holidays are about sharing in the warmth and love of family and friends. Nothing is more important than our loved ones and they must be our first priority with a focus on spending quality time with those who mean the most to us. Christmas is the perfect occasion to rally around one another and embrace the warmth of those close to us. The season is also about helping others in need, extending a hand to our neighbours and reaching out to those who may be alone, shut in or struggling to make ends meet. Here in our piece of the world, Nova Scotians largely do that throughout the year but during the holidays we go the extra mile to make sure everyone enjoys a bit of happiness at this special time. Christmas is also about embracing family values and our traditions that have been passed down to us from earlier generations. We may celebrate other special occasions throughout the year, but no other season brings out the traditions quite like Christmas and that’s important because it allows us to remember our collective pasts while celebrating all that is good. Connecting with our familiar roots allows us to remain grounded and gives us a solid base from which to face a new year. The list of traditions we observe during the holidays is long and runs the gamut from decorations, to giving gifts, attending religious services, welcoming Santa into our homes, trimming the tree, preparing large feasts and hosting seasonal gatherings. No matter which traditions you celebrate or which you choose not to observe, these activities are all part of the collective season that is Christmas and the key is to do the things that bring you closer to your loved ones. A major component of all holiday celebrations is the seasonal foods. Perhaps it’s just me but there are some foods that seem to taste better during Christmas than any other time of the year. While those dishes are important parts of our annual traditions, preparing our favourite family recipes also allows us to honour and remember those loved ones who are no longer with us. For me, it’s my mother’s three-bean salad. While the recipe is simple enough to follow, she loved it and prepared it every Christmas for as long as I can remember. So, as a way of keeping her memory with us during the holiday season, I prepare Mom’s bean salad every Christmas and it’s the only time of the year I make it, keeping it as a special tradition just for the holidays. Even to those who do not consider themselves to be spiritual people, the holy season fills us with faith and hope and a sense of peace. The season gives us a rallying point around which we can count our blessings, put our lives into perspective, pull our loved ones close and honour whomever or whatever you worship. It’s about believing in something beyond the normally restrictive confines of our day-to-day lives. In the material world in which we live today, Christmas is also about having faith in our humanity. Even when events and circumstances such as what we’ve gone through during the past year and a half conspire to tear us down and test our resolve, this special season allows us to pause, take a deep breath, step away from the stress, gather our thoughts, and regroup so that we can face a new year filled with hope and the belief that there will be a better tomorrow. And I do believe there will be a better tomorrow. No matter how busy life has become or how dark the times may seem, Christmas is that one time of year when all that negativity can melt away. It may only be for a few days, but it’s a welcome respite from our hustle bustle world and tha t’s the view from here. Vernon Oickle, the author of 32 books, writes The View From Here column, which appears weekly in the South Shore Breaker.


© PressReader. All rights reserved.