Blue Christmas

INTROSPECTIVE - Tony F. Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - October 21, 2020 - 12:00am

If we needed a reminder that the holiday season is quickly approaching, all we would have to do is look around. Take a glance at the shops that are opening, listen to the Christmas songs already playing on the radio, and listen to people on TV talking about how many more days it is until Christmas (65 in case you were wondering). Sadly, it looks like the holiday season this year is going to be very different from the Christmas season that we’re used to.

I guess that’s the underlying theme of 2020 in general – different from what we’re used to. Since the global pandemic hit back in February, everything has changed. I remember back in the early weeks and month of the pandemic, everyone wondered how we would move forward and if life would ever get back to any kind of semblance of normal. Months of various types of quarantines followed and everything remained uncertain.

Fast forward to eight months later and a lot of the uncertainty still remains. Many of us who had big plans for 2020 changed those plans into essential survival mode and so many businesses did their best to just be able to make it through every day. We all shelved any long term goals and focused on just getting through each day.

Everyone hoped this was only temporary. After all, we kept hearing about how vaccines were soon to be on the way and that it was only a matter of time before we would be able to go back to the lives we knew. Thinking about it now, it doesn’t really seem likely that we’ll ever get back to life as we knew it before. I mean, a vaccine will eventually come, but things will never really be the same again.

As for the country, we’re all now focusing on reviving the economy and finding ways to move forward. Micro, small, and medium enterprises were hit the hardest and a lot of them didn’t make it and were forced to fold. So many Filipinos lost their jobs, their income, and so much more. It became so much more important to support one another and help pull each other through. Hopefully, those that are still hanging on are able to pull through as doors slowly open again.

Now as the holidays approach, I think we all know that this Christmas is going to be very different. I recall a few months ago, we were told that things were going to be normal by Christmas. That was a pipedream and it definitely looks like one that isn’t going to come true. Instead, with the coronavirus here to stay (for now), it looks like the old Elvis song is what we have to look forward to – a Blue Christmas. One where we can celebrate the blessings we still have, but one where we still need to remain socially distant, wear masks, and be careful.

I know that no one is looking forward to a holiday season like that, but we have to look at the big picture. The sacrifices we make today will hopefully be for a brighter future. With a second surge of COVID-19 happening in several other countries around the world, we can’t afford to be complacent and rush going back to normal lest we suffer a stronger and harder to control second wave surge. Honestly, though, I don’t think we have to worry about that so much considering we are still firmly in the first wave of infections at this point.

But life has to go on somehow and as we navigate the general community quarantine, we need to find ways to work, earn a living, provide jobs, and keep ourselves sane. However, we can’t risk forgetting safety protocols. And of course, if at all possible – remain home. Just because sanctions are being lifted to help boost the economy, we shouldn’t take that to mean that it’s okay to go outside again for simple leisure. Let’s be mindful that we are still in a global pandemic and we still need to think of ours and others’ safety.

I believe that that is how cases are going to increase again. I’ve noticed in the past several weeks, and as more and more bans are being lifted, more and more people are going out once again. Funny enough, it appears as though transmissions and new infections aren’t coming from workplaces or public places which are strict with safety protocols. Instead, new cases are the result of personal gatherings where friends and family are so excited to see one another again and are easily carried away and forget to wear masks strictly or give in to the temptation of a hug or a kiss.

I can certainly understand wanting and even needing the physical closeness with our loved ones. That’s part of being human and staying sane. However, times are just different at the moment and we need to be extra careful. That’s how we can show love right now and that’s what we need to remember as the holidays come in and we inevitably spend some (socially distanced) time with family and friends.

In the end, it’s sad to think that so much time has passed, and yet it feels like nothing has really changed. Have we learned to live with COVID-19 better? Maybe. But we haven’t really had any breakthroughs in dealing with the pandemic, controlling it, or staying ahead of it. Unlike other countries that are heading into the holidays more hopeful, we still need to remain cautious and careful. If we want to have a good new year, it will largely depend on our actions in the final two months of the year.



For comments or questions, please email author at: tonyk219@yahoo.com

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