By Pauline Kerr
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the town …
Discussions of omicron were buzzing around …
The Grinch known as the COVID-19 pandemic is hijacking Christmas again – or rather, it will if we let it.
In an effort to make up for last year’s Christmas lockdown, many of us planned to really throw ourselves into the holiday spirit this year in our eagerness to gather together with friends and relatives, co-workers and neighbours. We studied with great anticipation all the special deals on cruises in the tropics, junkets to exotic destinations and entertainment packages in the world’s most exciting cities.
We might want to do a reality check. Even without the appearance of the omicron super-Grinch variant, COVID would still be with us. Efforts to get as many people vaccinated as possible did not go beyond the borders of the world’s wealthier countries, leaving the continent of Africa largely unprotected. The world is not like bubble wrap, made up of separate little compartments. It is more like a pool. What happens at the shallow end will surely make its way to the deep end.
Even within countries where a high percentage of the population is vaccinated, there are areas where the vaccination rate is low. The virus has had ample opportunity to keep spreading, both locally and around the world. And as viruses are prone to do, it has been mutating as it spreads.
Early in the pandemic, there were predictions things would not bounce back to normal after a single battle. The war would be long, and continue in waves. What is happening now comes as no surprise. Mind you, omicron seems to be making wave five an especially nasty one.
Doing a reality check does not have to mean giving in to the Grinch, and huddling miserably in our homes to bemoan our misfortune.
We know a lot more about this virus than we did 20 months ago. Vaccines are effective even against omicron, but they are far from being the only tool we have. Before we had vaccines, we managed to get control over the spread of the virus using masks, hand-washing and distancing. These measures still work.
We may not be able to have a pre-COVID style holiday celebration but we can make this Christmas one to remember with smiles on our faces and warmth in our hearts.
A remarkable number of people in this community have turned their energies toward making sure everyone has good food on the table and gifts under the tree. They have found many special ways of thanking those who have helped us weather the COVID storm, from our health-care heroes to the smiling people serving coffee at the drive-through window.
COVID has taught us the real definition of “essential worker.” There are many people in this community who have a new sense of pride in their work, realizing a long-distance trucker with a load of toilet paper can be more valuable – and valued – than a room filled with the CEOs of major corporations.
Nuclear reactors do not get shut down because omicron has made an appearance, and cows still get milked. Emergency personnel continue to be ready to respond to the tragedies we pray will not happen, as they have throughout the pandemic.
Community volunteers continue to hold fundraisers and special events, utilizing incredible creativity to make sure this community’s hospitals are well equipped, sports programs continue to operate, and those in need continue getting help.
If this cannot be the Christmas when we say farewell to COVID, let this be the Christmas of the essential worker, the health-care hero, the community volunteer.
Let it be the Christmas of enjoying the wonderful holiday lights people have put up to brighten everyone’s spirits, of giving a little extra to our favourite charities, and thanking those who have kept this community going over the past two years.
We are truly blessed to live where we do, in a community where caring and sharing are so much more than words.
Merry Christmas to all.