"This virus is not a gift."
It’s a week before Christmas but it is a very different holiday season that we are having. The COVID-19 pandemic is still very much around and the Philippines has breached the 450,000 cases mark. Government is expecting a spike in the numbers because of the season. Everybody must be on high alert to avoid getting the virus. This calls for creativity and means celebrating in very untraditional ways.
By now, it is natural to miss the people close to us. The Christmas season is for get-togethers, reunions, and parties. However, because of the virus, we need to forego physically seeing family and friends. Yes, we will miss eating and drinking together, the hugs, the games, dancing and singing together. But nothing is more important than making sure that we are not giving or receiving the virus. Remember, COVID-19 is not a gift.
We need to be content with seeing those dear to us online, at least for now. This does not mean that we cannot have fun. Games and music can still be had, just plan ahead so everyone is ready for the event. We can still virtually share a meal and even have an e-numan session. I have been to online events that had performers and I still had fun. At least this will still give us the time to be together even if only virtually.
Such online parties will be hard to pull off among Filipinos who do not have the access to and know-how about gadgets and technology, and there are many among us. Seeing loved ones during this season is more challenging for them. Still, people should refrain from being in a crowd. And if one will see others, one has to make sure to always wear face mask and shield. Also, they should refrain from touching surfaces and frequently wash or sanitize hands. It is better to be safe than sorry.
This is also the time to reach out to friends who are living alone, those who are going through rough times, or those who have lost loved ones. Imagine how they are coping. Let us make them feel remembered and cared for. Often, it really does not take much. A phone call, a social media chat, or even an email can do wonders to the spirits of those who are lonely and lost. Give them time, it is a precious gift.
And speaking of gifts, Christmas is traditionally a gift-giving season. Often, we spend a significant amount of money buying gifts. It is different this time. Life is harder across the board. Many have lost jobs and businesses have closed or are closing down. Those who are still employed have no assurance that they will be able to keep their livelihood. Tens of thousands of overseas workers have returned home, unemployed. Families and communities have been devastated by the recent calamities.
While times are difficult, this is no reason to not give meaningful gifts.
We should not expect expensive, or even material, gifts. Be grateful to friends and family members who remember us this Christmas. Knowing that people care is in itself an important gift. And we should express our appreciation. It does not cost a centavo to say thank you. Gratitude is a good feeling.
Now, if we want to give gifts and we do not have money to spare, pre-loved items can do the trick. Perhaps a friend likes a book that you have and have already read, give it. You have a lot of nice trinkets? Send some to people you know will appreciate them. Ransack your cabinets and bring out those nice things that you may have forgotten you have, or have not really used. Others will have use for them. Those gifts you received and are just gathering dust in your drawers can make others happy. Wrap them nicely and with a sweet note, send them to those you know need, or like them.
Those among us who can still afford to buy things should not forget those who have been hit by the recent calamities. Send food to families who do not have the means to enjoy a noche buena this Christmas Eve. It is also a good idea to give gifts to patients. Just drop these off and let the hospital take care of distributing them. Plan a gift-giving event in a poor community that will observe all the COVID-19 protocols. Children should be made happy, no matter what. In return, you will receive a precious gift— joy, in the knowledge that you made people smile and happy, even for just a while. It is a different high.
Gift-giving this season should be more meaningful. Give a little bit of ourselves, of what we already have, and what we can afford to give. These will go a long way.
Lastly, not exposing others to COVID-19 is a gift in itself. Taking all precautions to not get it is a most precious gift we can give to ourselves and our families.
Have a COVID-19-free Christmas! Cheers!
@bethangsioco on Twitter Elizabeth Angsioco on Facebook