By Pauline Kerr
Santa Claus certainly has a lot of elves and other helpers – bravo to them all!
There are the elves who decided that kids deserved holiday fun. Even if parades had to be cancelled this year because of COVID-19, assorted elves joined forces to make sure the little ones had a chance to greet Santa in person.
No one paid these elves for scrambling to put together some sort of event at the last minute, for standing in the cold to direct traffic, for making endless phone calls or for smiling and wishing people a merry Christmas for hours on end. They did it to make kids happy.
Some of the festivities were on the weird side, with Santa wearing a mask along with his usual apparel, and kids standing behind plastic shields. Who would have imagined a drive-through parade before COVID?
We learned that when it comes to holiday fun, children want to see Santa. The parade of elaborate floats and marching bands is nice, but the guy in the red suit is the big attraction. Whether or not he wears a mask, or whether kids drive past him or the other way around, is of no concern to the little ones.
There were other elves who went all-out to put up spectacular displays of decorations and lights. While there are certain elves who always do this – we know who they are and love driving or walking past their houses – it seems a lot more elves signed up for this bit of holiday 2020 magic. And we are grateful.
There are elves who devote themselves to making sure those less fortunate have as merry a Christmas as possible, with plenty of food on the table and gifts for all the children. COVID-19 has hit a lot of communities with devastating intensity, and these helper elves have been working harder than usual.
Some people have enough food and material goods. What COVID-19 has deprived them of is visits from family and friends. This pandemic has had a negative impact on mental health for many. Three cheers for the elves who made an extra effort to keep in touch electronically with neighbours, family members and friends. A five-minute phone call seems like such a small gesture, but if it is the only friendly voice a person has heard all day, the benefit is huge.
There are elves who paid attention when calls for help went out from various charities that were unable to hold their usual fundraisers. Yes, people supported on-line events, and whatever in-person events that could safely be held. And yes, many of them contributed a lot more than usual, knowing the need remains unchanged.
Individuals have stepped up to the plate with donations; so have businesses. Some have taken on such strong leadership roles in community responsibility that they have changed our entire society for the better.
The way the elves responded to the constantly changing COVID-19 landscape is a credit to this community’s resilience and innovative spirit. The elves have taught us that improvising is fine, that a Santa Claus parade is still a Santa Claus parade whether it has a hundred spectacular floats or a pickup truck with Santa sitting on a lawn chair in the back. Christmas dinner is still Christmas dinner whether it is a delicious turkey with all the trimmings, or a deli chicken and fries eaten in front of the famous television burning log. A festive gathering is still festive whether it takes place in person or via Zoom.
That same spirit will carry us through the holidays and into the new year.
The elves have taught us that helping others is the best way to celebrate. This is one part of COVID we hope lasts long after the virus is but a distant memory. When our children and grandchildren think back to Christmas 2020, they may well consider it the best Christmas ever.
Three cheers for the elves! They know, and we know, that Christmas is about giving, counting blessings, and thinking about the real reason why we celebrate.