Here we are, at the beginning of America’s unofficial six-week long Holiday Season. Thanksgiving Day is Thursday of this week, and on Sunday the liturgical season of Advent begins. Then at the end of December the two big holidays of Christmas and New Year’s occur. However, this is 2020, the year when nothing is normal. And our traditional holiday festivities are going to be quite different compared to anything we’ve experienced in recent times.
I remember when the Coronavirus appeared back in March. One so-called expert on TV said this virus, like most flu viruses, would just fizzle out when the warm weather of summer arrived. Well, that never happened. Another expert predicted the virus would not be under control until an effective vaccine was developed, which might take 12 to 18 months. Unfortunately, it seems like this is the way things are panning out.
This means the recommended Thanksgiving feast this year will be with two or four or maybe five people at most. Or in a lot of cases, one person. Don’t forget: there are plenty of Americans, especially among the elderly, who live alone these days.
The same goes for other cherished holiday traditions, such as Christmas shopping, workplace holiday parties, Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve celebrations. With the cancellation of office parties and New Year’s Eve parties, at least there should be a reduction in DUI arrests and liver damage. However, a different kind of damage is being inflicted by this COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s only going to get worse during the holidays. I’m referring to emotional damage, as the social isolation we’ve endured the past eight months will be magnified during the Christmas season.
Because this is 2020 — the year when nothing is normal — the holiday season also will be anything but normal. A lot of folks are just starting to realize that they will not see many of their loved ones in person this year, and this realization is increasing the emotional damage already inflicted by the pandemic.
As Catholic Christians, it is our duty to comfort those in distress. This year, some of the distressed people in our society very well may be our own relatives. Since it is risky to see them in person, we have to do the next best thing: pick up the phone and give them a call.
In his letter to the Ephesians in the Bible, St. Paul wrote, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called” (Eph. 4:4).
St. Paul used the word “called” twice, and I think it’s pretty obvious he was referring to telephone calls. Because there is one Spirit and because all believers make up one body, it is imperative that we call our lonely relatives during this holiday season. See? That’s irrefutable proof right from the Bible.