For many of us, this has not been the year – or the Christmas – we had hoped for. Luckily, our faith in God has remained with us, and we can still reach out to our family, friends, co-workers and neighbours.
Christmas will be different again this year…..we are all weary of the pandemic, continuing lock downs, stay at home orders, and social distancing which has affected the home, work, school and church which is strongly dependent on physical, communal worship and participation in the sacraments. Since the pandemic only 4 in 10 Catholics attend church in person.
Spending the holidays with only the people we live with, I whole heartedly agree for safety reasons it is a prudent action, however, for those who live alone, it’s a tough one-two punch, brought by the pandemic’s requirement of social distancing or through isolation.
This the second consecutive year people are making plans to celebrate the coming of Jesus by dropping off or receiving food from local family and friends, instead of attending in person, exchanging hugs, gifts and sitting together for a meal.
For us Catholics, the gift of sharing and savoring the love and gratitude we have for each other is stronger than our physical distances.
Together we’re navigating through some dark uncertain times as we head straight into the second full winter of Covid-19 and its variants, Delta and Omicron.
Clearly, the 2021 holiday season will be much like 2020 because our government continues to recommend strongly that Canadians restrict their travel for the Christmas holidays.
Let us be cognizant of the fact that this much separation from one another is hard. After nearly 19 months, pandemic fatigue is real and mental health issues are manifesting themselves all around us for all age groups, especially for those who are marginalized.
I was interested in knowing how HCDSB teachers, students and families are coping, so I asked some of our principals, vice-principals, teachers, support staff, students and parents to tell me how they’re planning to navigate the holiday season, this the second year of an ever evolving world wide crisis. I received many responses which were both heartfelt and affirming that the general consensus was that we’re all struggling albeit differently.
To deal with this stressful reality many HCDSB stakeholders are finding all sorts of ways to connect, celebrate, and reflect so as to offset the ills of social distancing.
The net result is that there will be mass attendance and dinners over social media platforms like Zoom, but also many small gatherings outdoors, around bonfires and on porches beneath heated lamps.
Everyone that I speak to tell me they take the dangers of the pandemic seriously. They are making personal sacrifices to protect themselves, their families and to keep their school communities safe.
As we move into 2022 let us remember that it’s our Catholic faith that gives us hope and a strong community.
I wish everyone a Merry and Blessed Christmas and a safe, healthy and prosperous New Year!