“We won’t be home for the holiday,” my daughter said. Her voice quivered with sadness. “It’s too risky with COVID. We don’t want to infect you and Mom.”
Her words shot like a dagger into my heart.
Pushing past the gulp in my throat, I responded, “How about we do a Zoom call, so we can still be together?”
“That sounds great, Dad. I love you.”
“I love you too, sweetie.”
In one way or another, we’re all feeling a sense of loss this year. COVID is the Grinch that threatens to steal Christmas. But can it? Can the COVID-Grinch steal Christmas?
I wonder how the Whos in Whoville did it? How did they rise Christmas morning, see the presents stolen from underneath their trees, and when the village bells rang, gather round to sing songs of love and light?
Fah-who foris, dah-who doris, welcome Christmas, bring your light.
Fah-who foris, dah-who doris, welcome in the cold at night!
Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart and hand in hand!
They must have pierced the darkness to discover the Light. They must have experienced what God promised in the Gospel of John: the light shines in the darkness and the darkness can‘t overcome it.
This Christmas, you and I are faced with a choice. Will we let the COVID-Grinch steal our Christmas? Will we let the losses we’ve experienced push us back into our homes and huddle with fear, anger, and disappointment, or will we muster the inner strength to discover the true spirit of Christmas—love?
The Light still shines in the darkness, even this year. We might have to look through tired eyes and wearied hearts, but if we look deep enough, we’ll see eternal love twinkling.
The Spirit of Christmas is alive and well. You can see it through the hands of health care workers risking their lives to serve and heal those stricken with COVID. It sparkles with an outpouring of compassion and encouragement to those who’ve lost loved ones. It’s in the bond of families who don’t care so much about material presents, but realize the true gift is in the Presence of each other, whether face-to-face or via Zoom. And you see divine hope in the men and women who raced with warp speed to develop a vaccine.
I will not let COVID steal Christmas from my heart this year. I will dig deep to find the courage within me, light the candle in my heart, and continue to believe God is with us. He always has been and always will be.
Like the villagers in Whoville, when the bells ring on Christmas morning, I will rise and sing songs of hope as this year teaches me lessons of love.
Will you join me? Will you dig deep and ask for the grace to see beyond our losses and let your Light bring hope to a world hungering for true love?
You are the Light. I am the Light. And when we join our lights, the world becomes a brighter place.
There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope, and love.
And even the COVID-Grinch can’t steal Christmas because love endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7)—and long after this year’s Grinch has been remanded to the history books, Christmas will still continue to thrive.
The Spirit of Love always wins.
—brian j plachta