By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
We all know the villains of the holiday season; The Grinch, Ebenezer Scrooge and Mr. Potter from the film “It’s a Wonderful Life” come to mind.
The premise is simple; the enemy of all that is good in the world doesn’t believe in or goes out of their way to sabotage the holiday spirit.
And you know how these movies end; the cynical adversary realizes what the holiday spirit is all about. Even the Grinch, with his heart three sizes too small, becomes renewed and restores the spirit and joins the celebrations.
At least that how the story went in those years BC (Before COVID).
In 2020, as we might expect, we have the revenge of the Grinch. Ebenezer Scrooge has won – his signature phrase “Bah, Humbug” seems almost cheery compared to the reality of the holiday season of 2020.
Holiday concerts, gatherings, even most travel, have been almost entirely eliminated.
Another strand of holiday movies urges us all to “believe.”
With wide-eyed children, and usually a roster of cynical adults or older siblings, the “belief” in Santa, or Christmas or anything positive is the plot line, a “Belief” that must be defended in spite of unrelenting criticism and mockery.
And they, the cynics, are proven wrong by a “Christmas miracle.”
It seems so innocent now.
Yes, those movies and stories are formulaic, but they speak to a larger, deeper story – one most of us are desperate to believe.
Most of us as people, but particularly as Americans, want to believe that good will prevail, that “hope” or “belief” in something, something indefinable will make a life-changing difference.
If you watch Hallmark movies, you know that love, no matter what the obstacles, will make its way.
And we, most of us at least, believe that love, Christmas, that house payment or that lost relative will somehow, by some miracle, will turn up.
As the days get darker and shorter, we want to believe. We want to know that the darkness, the heaviness, the anxiety will not, in spite of all appearances, last forever.
You may have seen a higher than usual level of lights and other holiday decorations this year.
Is this a sign of “belief”? A sign of hope? A proclamation against the darkness?
Instead of traveling to grandma’s house, we are lighting up our neighborhoods.
Instead of Christmas shopping, we are ordering, and ordering, and ordering, online.
Malls, even airports are empty, city streets aren’t bustling and full of lights, crowds or sounds of Christmas.
Instead of sitting around a table we are at home meeting family and friends remotely and, as many of have learned at our own expense, keeping an eye on the mute button and video feed.
Like everything else in 2020, the holidays are nothing like they used to be.
No photos with Santa, no neighborhood parties, no office parties, no Christmas pageants, no Christmas caroling; this is a season only a Grinch would love.
It’s not just America of course, even Canada, a Whoville if there ever was one, has seen its holiday traditions upended by COVID (https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/12/03/pandemic-playing-grinch-to-kamloops-whovilles-plans.html).
Across Europe “surge upon surge” as Dr. Fauci put it, are putting centuries-old traditions and celebrations on hold.
We will celebrate again, but as that classic song from World War II put it, “don’t know where, don’t know when.”
As we attempt to create or do some ersatz online holiday shopping or visiting, we need to keep in mind that yes, this holiday is like no other.
Our “Christmas miracle” might be an effective vaccine. Or a sudden drop in COVID cases or a resurgence in the economy.
Or maybe, like those citizens of Whoville, we will gather, even virtually, oblivious of what is missing and celebrate what we have without a thought to those things that The Grinch, or even we, thought were so important.
It’s not the wrapping or the flickering lights, or even the gifts.
It’s that indefinable feeling, luxury even, of recognizing and appreciating each other, even in the grimmest and darkest time of the year.
You could even say that we celebrate, not out of tradition, or even because we want to, but because we need to.
2020 has cast its pall over everything, including our holidays.
We won’t celebrate them as we usually have, but we do hope to celebrate them again.
And maybe, just maybe, we, like The Grinch, and Ebenezer Scrooge and even that irascible Mr. Potter, will realize as we never have before, the fragile, ineffable power of this season of lights, of reclamation of the darkness and the proclamation that, no matter how difficult this year, and the winter of an already challenging season might be, we will prevail, and spring, and holidays to come will be on our horizon.
Whatever your holidays might be, and however you celebrate them, now or traditionally, or in the future, we wish you the best, and may the new year hold unforeseen opportunities.
After a year like 2020, we deserve it.
Don’t let the Grinches get you down. COVID and the drizzle won’t last forever. And after December 21st, the days will be getting longer.
And don’t forget the message at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life”: “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.”