A different kind of Christmas

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Well, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around Chatham-Kent, and with only six weeks or so to go, I think it’s safe to say this isn’t going to be the kind of holiday we’re used to.

But before we get into any of that, let me take a moment to remind you of the first big event of the season, which happens this Saturday, Nov. 21.

The Gift CK will see volunteers from across the municipality driving around or manning drop-off points for donations of toys, food, etc. for the estimated 30,000 people from our community who it’s anticipated will be struggling financially this festive season.

Volunteers will be picking up donations from doorsteps beginning at noon this Saturday in an effort that is bringing together organizations from across CK that typically run their own Christmas hamper projects.

This is another massive undertaking for our community and I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who is contributing to this project in any way.

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Over this past weekend, I read that our medical officer of health, Dr. David Colby, is cautioning residents to stick to their social bubbles during the upcoming holiday season.

I can’t say this comes as a surprise, nor did the social media backlash that came with it.

As always there are the accusations that for whatever reason The Government and The Media are colluding to ruin Christmas for everyone.

If you’re on Facebook, you probably know the frustration that comes with the fact that there is no ‘eye-roll’ button, but I don’t typically weigh in on those discussions anyway. I think we’re pretty much at the point now where any sort of debate is all but meaningless.

Ye the fact of the matter is that neither The Government nor The Media are ruining anything for anyone. COVID-19 is doing that.

Yes boys and girls, COVID-19 is the enemy that is killing people, leaving others with lasting health impacts, ravaging long-term care homes, threatening to overwhelm hospitals and exhausting our front line workers.

It is COVID-19 that is forcing governments around the world – the WORLD – to make decisions, develop strategies and then throw those decisions and strategies out the window as new information comes to light. And it is COVID-19 that is forcing media outlets to publish new information that contradicts old information because of – guess what folks? – science and data!

We’ve been very fortunate thus far in Chatham-Kent that we haven’t suffered the huge outbreaks that other communities have, and it’s not that reports of this virus have been ‘overblown’ or it’s some kind of bizarre conspiracy theory.

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It’s because enough of us are adhering to the guidelines put in place to keep us safe and that outbreaks are being dealt with quickly and efficiently.

This is a very difficult time for everyone, and now it looks like there is hope on the horizon with not one but two potential vaccines.

The restrictions that we are living under will not last forever but they will last until sometime next year by the look of things, so yes, Christmas can’t be Christmas as usual.

Deal with it.

People in previous generations have spent Christmases in the trenches, on the front lines of war, in the Great Depression and in the midst of other pandemics.

People in this generation are living through this pandemic in war-torn countries, in famine- and drought-stricken zones, in crowded migrant camps and in poverty the likes of which even the most destitute of Canadians will never know.

Most of us realize how fortunate we are to live in a country where we have access to free health care and we are doing our best to avoid putting extra pressure on the system by flouting the simple guidelines that are in place.

Our family have been doing extended family dinners outside only since the spring and we are continuing to do so whenever the weather allows us to.

Last week we had a birthday dinner for our future daughter-in-law around our fire pit in the backyard. It was cold and it was dark, but we made it work.

We’ve known for a while that we won’t be having an indoor family Christmas this year and we’re working to figure out the logistics of how that’s going to work.

We may not be able to do an outdoor gathering on the day, but I’m sure we’ll be able to figure out some way of celebrating the day as a family, even if it’s remotely.

If you’re a Christian, I’m sure you know that the ‘reason for the season’ is to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and I’m pretty sure that He would encourage us to do whatever we can to keep one another safe.

We can do this.

Stay safe my friends.

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