As we enter into these early days of November, we are already being inundated with commercial messages concerning the upcoming Holidays. Messages of how, and in what ways, will we “hold on” to all of our traditions, in the midst of this pandemic. Granted many of the messages are blatant commercials for products or delivery companies and how all those products will mysteriously appear on your doorstep with “contact-free delivery.” In my house, as I am sure it is with many others, conversation, as well as anxiety and flat out worry, surrounds the questions about how are we going to re-enact all of our Holiday traditions? Can we gather with family and friends? Will we all wear masks right up until the Thanksgiving Turkey is carved and then eat our dinner – keeping appropriate distance from one another? Will we be able have Christmas Eve Worship with the holding of lit candles while we sing Silent Night with our church family? And what about all of the other festivities that require our time and energies that make our Holidays ….well…. Holidays? And pretty quickly we find that we have a knot in our stomach, that we can’t untie, and our frustrations and anxiety grow each passing moment.

We forget that our celebration of Easter took place while we were still all filled with adrenalin. It was April 12, only a few weeks from when things began to shut down. It was the first major holiday, and we were hoping this pandemic would be over soon and we could get back to what we were doing before. That was seventy months ago. (Really it was only 7, but I know for me, it feels like 70.) And now, as we watch positive test numbers rise, we are out of adrenalin, and it feels like this could go on forever. So, what do we do? How do we approach these upcoming holidays? What do we do with our anxiety? And how can we make the most of this holiday season?

I believe that we should begin by taking a deep breath, to slow down, and to have some reflective, thoughtful conversation with our loved ones, about what would be most meaningful for each one of us. With the objective being, how do we best take care of one another, keeping each other healthy and safe, and what activities would be most prudent for us to partake in? What traditional activities might need to be postponed this year? How might we keep our focus on the purpose and meaning of these holidays? What are some ways for us to reflect on and express our gratitude and thankfulness this Thanksgiving? For what are you most thankful? How might we focus on our preparations during this Advent Season as we anticipate our celebration of the birth of the Christ Child? What Christmas traditions might have to take a rest this year, so that we can all be together for future Christmas celebrations? And how do we best experience and celebrate “Emmanuel” – God with us, in these days of Covid-19?

My hope is that maybe, just maybe, if we focus upon the true meaning and purpose of these Holidays, that those activities or rituals that have been so important to our celebrations in the past, the ones that we must set aside for now, will be missed, but we will not let that ruin our celebrations. May our focus be centered on our thankfulness, our sense of awe and wonder, and keeping each other healthy and safe.

May we all celebrate healthy, safe and meaningful Holidays!

Scott Jacob, Sr. Program Director
The James Company
(218) 830-0335