What will Christmas be like this year? Will the pandemic make it a very different holiday? Around this time every year, shop windows and streets are festooned with an abundance of holiday decorations, and stores are overflowing with gifts and toys.
If 2020 were a normal year, we’d be organizing our Christmas activities by now. What decorations should we buy for the house? Who’s in charge of Secret Santa? What day will the office Christmas party be held?
This year, there will be some new questions (and some of the old ones won’t apply): How many guests is a safe number? Will we even be able to share a meal with our family? Will there be a government-decreed shelter-in-place order?
This year, because of COVID-19, we’ll have to avoid large public events such as parades, festivals, and Christmas parties at the office. The word from health experts is that it’s unlikely the situation will improve enough for us to celebrate Christmas without restrictions. Going by current trends, some experts even suggest that by Christmas we may need to enter a new period of lockdown.
Given the situation, I ask myself: Do we really have to reinvent Christmas?
In the days before Christmas 2018, Pope Francis asked how God would want us to celebrate this holiday. This year, in the face of the pandemic, this question takes on even more meaning. Now, more than ever, we need to reflect on what kind of Christmas we want to live. At the time, in December 2018, Pope Francis said,
“To celebrate Christmas, then, is to receive on earth the surprises of Heaven … It is the celebration of an unprecedented God who overturns our logic and our expectations.”