My wish this Christmas: a spirit of gratitude

We have just had to cancel our planned holiday at Christmas. Having identified a warm destination to which it was possible to travel, we were looking forward to it. Things have changed in the last few days leading to cancellation. It’s disappointing.

For many, Christmas is a family celebration that we look forward to. For others, it’s the New Year’s Eve revelry that is the most anticipated event (I concur). This year, neither are likely to be filled with the same joy and celebration that has become the norm. Governments everywhere have had to resort to strict measures to contain the virus.

But it’s worth putting it all into perspective. Christmas and the New Year come round every year. Missing or toning down one year’s set of celebrations may be disappointing, but it’s hardly life-changing. For most people, there will be other Christmases and other New Years to celebrate – next year, the year after that, and, hopefully many more. We are also all enveloped by a sense of sadness at the large numbers of people who have died prematurely and will not be experiencing this Christmas – and their families and friends who will be mourning their loss. 

On the other hand, trying to shoehorn ourselves into a ‘normal’ Christmas this year will mean that there may be even more people for whom this may unnecessarily becomes the last Christmas they will ever get to see.

Yes, we’re all fed up of it. Yes, the economic impact is substantial. Yes, many are having significant personal issues due to the seemingly endless stop-go lockdowns. These problems are all real. To some extent, the economic issues can be mitigated – and have been as governments everywhere have opened up the hoses showering people and businesses with money.

And in spite of what the ideologically obsessed have started to say, there is a lot more capacity to sustain such support for longer.

Our frustration at the nature and duration of this pandemic is ever-increasing. The temptation is to take it all out on our governments simply because politicians have become the easiest and most convenient punching bags for any sort of inconvenience that we might experience. Yet, our governments, scientists, health workers and many, many others have been busting their gut for months trying to do their best in almost impossible circumstances. 

So here is my Christmas wish. While the nature of the celebrations may be different, there is not reason why we cannot find it in ourselves to summon up the Christmas spirit even as we approach the end of this dismal year.

In the spirit of Christmas, let’s stop the bitching and moaning. Let us instead recognise the huge efforts that many have put, and continue to put, into managing an almost impossible situation. Let us this Christmas find the spirit of gratitude that everyone deserves. And yes, that includes governments and politicians – irrespective of their political colour.

As for the New Year, let us look forward to a better 2021 mediated by the extraordinary human achievement of having several highly effective vaccines now available when a year ago today nobody had even heard of the SARS-Covid-19 coronavirus.

A remarkable co-production effort that involved both the public and private sectors, spanned national borders and involved multiple skills; from the work of research scientists to the global development capabilities of pharmaceutical companies, from the producers of cold storage facilities to organisations that have mobilised to handle the extraordinary logistical challenges involved, from the regulatory agencies that delivered fast review and approval without sacrificing proper scrutiny of the vaccines’ safety and effectiveness to the health care workers who will eventually inject the vaccine into our arms. 

Truly, in spite of the very real hardships, the very real tragedy of massive loss of life, we have much to be grateful for. And that should be the spirit of this Christmas.

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Radix is the radical centre think tank. We welcome all contributions which promote system change, challenge established notions and re-imagine our societies. The views expressed here are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily shared by Radix.

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