By Gary W. Moore
“Away, in a manger,” the traditional hymn begins. A baby was born to change the world and has. Whether you know the story of the birth of Jesus or not, His influence and teachings have impacted human existence in ways that would otherwise be unimaginable. I realize that not all my readers are Christians. Some follow another faith path, while others may be agnostic or atheist. As time has passed, most who reside in North America celebrate Christmas regardless of belief.
Depending upon what day your newspaper arrives, you may be reading this before Christmas, while a few of you are reading it after. Either way is fine.
Christmas means different things to different people. Whether you are a believer or not, most Americans celebrate the Christmas holiday in some way. It seems like most families I know have holiday traditions they follow. Some have been passed down for generations, but this year has certainly cramped the style of our typical holiday celebrations.
Our little family, my two sons, my daughter, and her husband and our two grandsons will gather together, providing everyone’s COVID-19 test is negative. We made the decision that these are the terms of gathering. Anyone not tested and negative can’t come. It makes me sick to be so stringent, but that is the state of the world we live in at this moment.
Our big meal is always Christmas Eve, where I cook a beef tenderloin, coated in olive oil, savory, thyme, and mustard seeds. Served with small, roasted oven potatoes and green beans. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a passionate cook. Afterwards we gather to hear the Christmas story, as I read Luke 2:1-20. Afterwards, we open gifts to each other.
Christmas morning, Caleb, and Noah, open their gifts from Santa (I say Santa knowing neither one of them believe the jolly guy in red exists). In the past, we’d always have an elaborate Christmas Day dinner, but we’ve gravitated to something easy like ham sandwiches and it becomes a relaxing and lazy day, interacting with each other and playing with the boys. I’d love to hear about your holiday traditions.
But not everyone will be so fortunate. Our current pandemic will keep many families and friends apart. For some, I fear it will be a very lonely holiday. Arlene and I are praying for those we know and don’t know who may be left alone or depressed. Holidays, in the best of times, are tough on some, but this year expands the hardship of separation from some to most.
What can we do to help others? Call or text those you are concerned about and may be alone or hurting. Let them know you care. If you know someone in need and you can, make a gift of food. There are many things you can do but none more important than just reaching out and letting them know you care and are thinking of them.
My Christmas wish for this year is that our nation begins a healing process after the most divisive election cycle of my lifetime. Both sides are guilty. No politician nor party came out of this with clean hands. We can and must do better.
I pray that these vaccines are effective, and lives are saved. In the meantime, PLEASE wear a mask in public, wash your hands often, and practice social distancing. I’m still dismayed by the numbers of people who disregard these simple steps that can reduce the spread of Covid-19.
Hopefully, there will never be another year like 2020, but take heart! This year is almost over. Regardless of all our hardships, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. I am optimistic that 2021 will be better!
In the spirit of the season, let us pray for Peace on Earth and Good will towards all.
PS – I penned a column I should not have. I’m not a political columnist nor pundit. I write a lifestyle column focusing on helping and encouraging others live a life of optimism. It was received very well by many but not as well by others. In retrospect, it was divisive. I stand by the premise of the column about election security, but if I’ve learned anything in life it’s to remain in my lane and do what I do best. That’s not writing about politics. Also, in the process, I misquoted former President Jimmy Carter, a man I respect. I should have done a better job of vetting my sources. I learned a valuable lesson.
Onward and upward!
Submitted by Gary W. Moore, a freelance columnist, speaker, and author of three books, including the award-winning, critically acclaimed, “Playing with the Enemy.” Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryWMoore721 and at www.garywmoore.com