It truly was one for the ages…

In 2019, just after Canadian Thanksgiving, I had a conversation with some people about the gradual, then obsessive preoccupation with Christmas once Thanksgiving celebrations here, then weeks later on the other side of the border take place, followed by the usual full-fledged dive into seasonal plans and what not…
“Conditioning, that’s all…” someone said.
“Just a way to celebrate making it through another year,” another chimed in.
That’s how I see it too, I offered.

Nevertheless, knowing that many people admit to not celebrating the yuletide season, at the conclusion of our tête-à-tête the popular consensus was the traditional: inviting guests, visiting friends, and whatever else people do in terms of preparing for, and celebrating, the day of the birth of Christ (as noted in Christian teaching), as I’ve come to know it. [Be warned, don’t look to me to engage in any religious explanation or conversation…]
That hustle and bustle, ‘growing excitement’ period leading up to the birth… as we learned, and then there’s the six-day period of merry-making… leading up to end-of-year celebratory explosions on that big day to “Ring out the old and ring in the new.”

That’s how I now know, understand and celebrate it.
As conversations go, one thing led to another, and soon switched from talk of merry-making… to a more sobering subject, something about a pandemic, which started somewhere in China, a city that I, and none to most of us, had never heard of, Wuhan.

At the time it was a recurring top story in the daily news with visual images inside a fish market with fish carcasses along with various flying and other animals thrown in. Almost stomach churning, yes, but that scene was geographically far-removed from us — thousands of miles… way over there on the other side of the world. So what’s to worry about.

It was a daily recurring news story, referred to as the Coronavirus pandemic, with medical/scientific experts on hand providing explanations as increasing numbers of people were dying in the immediate place where the pandemic was spawned and elsewhere, giving rise to increasing anxiety.
But what the hell, that place, the epicentre of what was now called the ‘Novel’ Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic was still far away, thousands of miles… So given the distance it had to travel — encountering [different] environmental conditions and time zones across the globe — would surely nullify its harmful/deadly impact and effects.
What did I, and most lay people know, we never lived or experienced the effects of an epidemic of any kind. AIDS, Swine flu…?

In fact, during that conversation, my non-scientific background kicked in; with winter weeks away I recall saying if and when the pandemic gets to this part of the world, the frigid Canadian weather would surely put COVID-19 (for bearing my name no less) in its place. But what do I know about the virus-science relationship I mused.
In retrospect, I was probably expressing [my] repressed anxiety vis-à-vis that better stated “fear of the unknown.” But watching dreadful images of death and dying coming out of Italy and other countries, where people — the dead and dying — were being housed in overcrowded hospitals, where decisions (of conscience) had to be made about who should live and die as the hurricane-like pandemic wreaked havoc on populations in its path was truly frightening and heart-wrenching.

And knowing that as COVID-19 continued on its deadly journey, impacting countries ABC to XYZ, no one would be able to find refuge anywhere; as it made its way across the globe every country would be touched.
That was the reality then. But uncertain and apprehensive as we all were, and notwithstanding the news we had been seeing for weeks, no one could imagine how destructive the pandemic would be, once it crossed the Atlantic and blew unto North American shores.

Right now, it doesn’t matter where the pandemic was created, or who did it. There are enough xenophobes around the world who, along with their political and racist enablers, always revert to what they innately do: point accusatory fingers as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on North Americans’ [and our “normal” way of life. Especially select/marginalized groups that have been historically existing/living on the minus/negative side of society’s goodwill.
The evidence is visible there everyday, ubiquitous, surpassing the Italian reality we witnessed earlier this year. It’s simply tragic. Christmas as we’ve known it is cancelled.

Sure it’s beckoning… but just make plans and think… traditional Christmas 2021, and make plans for traditional ‘end-of-year’, back to normal? New Year’s Eve 2021 celebrations… If you’re able to hold on that long.
Here’s some solace, if you’re lucky enough to escape with your life during this Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, keep praying for a return to normalcy in 2021. Simply follow the health protocols… We all had plans for 2020 but as the year gradually runs out, just remember we’re all in the proverbial same boat. More importantly, we’re still standing up, not lying down…

I know a handful of people who left the heart-wrenching ravages of Covid-19, in some cases because of underlying health reasons. Others squeezed decades of life out of life… Some people say it’s good living habits…
What a year! But I would be remiss if I didn’t give a fist bump to George Floyd whose life was brutally sacrificed by Derek Chauvin on U.S. Memorial Day, May 25, 2000. How could that date be forgotten.
It set off weeks-long anti-racist, anti-police brutality protests in America, like nothing we’ve seen in recent decades. Much like the brazen asphyxiation of Floyd the images went global, setting off similar global anti-racist protests in Europe, Africa and elsewhere.

As his six-year-old daughter, sitting on the shoulders of protester stated: “Dad changed the world.” So will the current generation of young white and other peoples of various ethnic backgrounds who made their presence felt at those daily protests organized Black Lives Matter and other movements that believe in justice and human rights in America and everywhere racial hatred exists.
Sam Cooke sang it years ago: “Change got come…” But not without more peaceful engagement and protests in 2021. Especially with the exit of the first blatantly racist, polarizing would-be dictator of the United States of America. God riddance to him.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to the rest of us, COVID-19 be damned!
Stay safe, and God willing, we’ll connect in 2021. Cheers…