Christmas 2020

This year many traditions will be paused or altered. But the spirit of Christmas will still lift hearts.

A father plays with his son at the Esplanade of Ministries, illuminated with lights and a large Christmas tree, in Brasilia, Brazil, Dec. 21, 2020.

Christmas has always been about light. It follows the winter solstice, which signals that days in the Northern Hemisphere will now grow longer. More light!

Christmas light illumines thoughts as well. Celebrating the birth of a child who brought a world-changing message speaks of a new beginning. A time to glimpse unlimited possibilities.

This year some in Britain’s news media bemoaned that “Christmas is canceled,” after Prime Minister Boris Johnson found it necessary to call for a lockdown on public activities following the discovery of a new strain of the COVID-19 virus circulating there.

Antonis Kousoulis, director of England and Wales operations for the Mental Health Foundation, urged officials to explain why limiting gatherings was really a kindness. “I find ‘Christmas is canceled’ is a little bit unhelpful,” he said. “I think it would be better if we said, ‘we’ll get through this together’ and ‘we’ll support each other.’”

The truth remains that because Christmas abides in human hearts, it can never be canceled.

Christmas 2020 finds people still expressing the Christmas spirit everywhere. A grocery store worker told The Boston Globe that those coming in right now have never been kinder or friendlier.

They say, “‘Thank you for going to look for this,’ or ‘Thank you for your help,’” the worker wrote in a column. “I continue to hear gratitude in my customers’ voices. I see it in their eyes, the glisten that lets me know they are smiling behind their masks.”

Others are making their own contribution to a happy Christmas. Essential workers such as those in hospitals are among the holiday heroes. Postal and other delivery workers are handling a prodigious number of packages, providing a new way that “shoppers rush home with their treasures.”

Most people already sense that now is the time to keep in close touch with friends and relatives, perhaps checking in on someone they haven’t talked with in a while or don’t know well.

For many families online video chats may substitute for crowding around a single festive table. (Expert tips: Have a fun story to tell the group. Give each participant a chance to say something before the free-for-all begins. What to talk about? Show the group your prized pooch or, even better, the new baby. No words needed.)

In 2020 the holiday spirit keeps popping up despite the challenges. Outdoor Christmas light displays at botanical gardens or other public places put on shimmering shows for visitors.

Even nativity pageants go on, although in altered forms. Children can be recorded individually as an angel or shepherd at home and then synced up in front of an appropriate backdrop for online viewing by admiring parents.

“This [Christmas] shakes you out of your old patterns and lets new things emerge,” the Rev. Brad Froslee, pastor at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Roseville, Minnesota, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “The Nativity story is about people coming from all directions, during a strange time, and ending in a miracle,” he said. “It seems to be much the same now.”

Revelry may not reach new heights in 2020, but the opportunity for thoughtful contemplation of the Christmas message remains.

“I love to observe Christmas in quietude, humility, benevolence, charity,” the Monitor’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, once wrote, “letting good will towards man, eloquent silence, prayer, and praise express my conception of Truth’s appearing.”

That celebration of Christmas lives on within the heart, always shedding new light.

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