As we head into Thanksgiving, most Americans are aware that the holidays will look much different in 2020. The coronavirus is surging, and we’re being encouraged to socially distance at a time when our natural instinct is to draw closer together. Otherwise, scientists and officials warn that we might be giving each other more than just presents this Christmas.
Even Santa Claus has had to make some adjustments.
In a series of videos made for the Associated Press, Claus tells us that he’s been “isolating [at the North Pole] for hundreds of years” now, so these new restrictions aren’t throwing off his own pre-Christmas routine one whit. He notes that his jaunt around the globe on Christmas Eve won’t be stopped by a “pesky virus,” and he says, “I’ve been designated a key worker in every country of note quite across the globe.”
And as Claus notes, the North Pole has made some high-tech adjustments.
“I’m also really excited to meet all of you wonderful children via the tippity-tap computers and tablets and other gadgets this year,” he says, noting that it’s actually quite a bit faster than writing and sending a letter.
Indeed, with Santa’s mall-based avatars banishing lap-sitting this year, the internet is awash with plenty of online conduits where you can talk with Santa, virtually speaking. (Be warned: Some come with a price tag, and a few can cost quite a bit more than a hefty lump of coal.) And for those for whom an in-person visit with Santa is critical, you’ll still find them at your local shopping locales. But despite some officials insisting that Kris Kringle himself is immune to COVID, these jolly old avatar-elves are still wearing facemasks and shield guards and sometimes sequestering themselves in gigantic snow globes.
But, as difficult and frustrating and, for many frightening as these alterations can be, the 2020 holidays can give us an opportunity to get back to the basics.
We have to remember that the very first Thanksgiving was celebrated by many who’d left friends and families an ocean away—with no possibility of connecting through the internet. They, too, were celebrating in a time of deep uncertainty and fear, and often, grief. Nearly half of those who boarded the Mayflower, after all, had died before this historic feast came to pass.
The first Christmas, too, was a time of separation and uncertainty. Mary and Joseph were far from home, and it wouldn’t be long before they’d find it necessary to flee even farther.
Yes, the holidays are times of celebration, and for many of us, our celebrations will be muted this year. But they’re also times of reflection and, to use a very Christmas-y word, adoration. Taken together, Thanksgiving and Christmas are opportunities to remember all the gifts God has given us—including the gift of His own son. This season of COVID gives parents a unique opportunity to teach that to their children.
For those interested in more help in leading your families through these uncertain times, Focus on the Family has plenty of help for you. Click here to begin your search.