By KELSEY HAGEMEIER
ADVICE FROM YOUTH FIRST
We’ve been talking for most of the year now about the impacts COVID-19 has had on our daily lives. We are starved for a sense of normalcy. I think a lot of us thought, surely, we’ll be done with this by Christmas. Yet, here we are, with the holiday season quickly approaching and new COVID cases seem to be reaching an all-time high. It’s easy to feel disgruntled by this. It’s another thing COVID is “taking from us.” I’d like to encourage you to change your frame of thinking on this because I believe it is also giving us a really unique opportunity to bring ourselves back to what the holidays, Christmas especially, are meant to be about.
Most Christmas seasons are spent planning and buying, and running from place to place. There is so much chaos that we often get through the entire event without really taking a moment to pause and remember what we’re doing this for. Presents are great. Watching children’s faces light up with delight while they’re opening their presents is a feeling that can warm any Grinch's heart. Seeing extended family is nice. For a lot of people, this time of year is the one time they get to see that aunt who lives three states away or the cousin who’s away at college.
The reality is, this year it’s probably not going to be safe to gather as we have in the past. It’s frustrating. We can get wrapped up in our feelings about missing out on things, or we can remember what Christmas is about. This is the perfect opportunity for your family to create new traditions. This is the perfect chance to put Jesus back at the center of the holiday.
With smaller lists of people to buy for and, hopefully, slightly more time on your hands, take time to pray and ask the Lord what you should be doing this year to celebrate the birth of Jesus. If you’re someone who has been blessed to not be financially burdened during this time, you may reach out to local charities to donate food or gifts. This might give your family time to pray together for families you know are struggling or have been negatively affected. Your family can write letters – like old school, put-a-stamp-on-it letters – to people you care about, wishing them a happy holiday season, and letting them know you’re praying for a healthy and happy new year.
There is so much about 2020 that has been different or difficult for us. Christmas doesn’t have to be part of that. With your family, you can embrace this change and allow your hearts to be centered around Jesus. Christmas started with a baby in a manger; in these times, our children might be just what we need to bring us all back to the true meaning of Christmas.
Kelsey Hagemeier, MSW, is a Youth First social worker serving Holy Cross School in Fort Branch; Sts. Peter and Paul and St James Schools in Haubstadt; and St Joseph School in Princeton.