In a recent media briefing, British Columbia’s top doctor talked about what is on the mind of a lot of people: Christmas.
Dr. Bonnie Henry joked that Santa Claus is probably immune from COVID-19, but stressed that the holiday season is going to be different in 2020.
“He'll be washing his hands a lot, and he probably won't be eating cookies and milk in every house this year, but we'll find ways of making it work,” Henry said.
A vaccine will likely not be available very soon in Canada, but this doesn’t mean that Christmas is cancelled, the provincial health officer said.
According to Henry, people can celebrate, but they have to do it in a safe way.
“There are many small things that we can do that will get us through this,” the doctor said.
Dr. Theresa Tam, who is Canada's chief public health officer, made the same guidance in another media briefing.
Tam’s main points: make it small, no large gatherings, and keep it in your own household.
“Keep to your current household contacts as much as possible,” Tam said.
Christmas is a cherished time for family.
There is one saying that the best of all gifts around the Christmas tree is a happy family wrapped up in each other.
Another adage goes that all roads lead home during Christmas.
These apply, especially to Filipinos.
Filipinos celebrate Christmas for as long as possible, with anticipation starting to build up when the first month of the year ending in ‘ber’ begins.
In Canada, many non-Filipinos are blown away when told that Christmas carols start playing on radio stations in the Philippines in September.
Filipinos are known for huge family gatherings during Christmas, and this is true for those living abroad, like in Canada.
While COVID-19 ushered in an era of great uncertainty, the pandemic has reinforced the importance of family to many people.
The health situation has served as a reminder that one is safest at home and with family.
It also demonstrated that in time of great need, it’s family that one can count on.
Rob Carrick, a personal finance columnist with the Globe and Mail, wrote in a recent piece that a number of young adults are turning to their parents for a financial lifeline during the pandemic.
Carrick related that a poll conducted by his Carrick on Money newsletter in September showed that parents are keeping their financially distressed offsprings afloat.
The columnist noted that of the 2,118 parents who participated in the survey, 95 percent reported that they provided support of some kind to their adult children.
According to Carrick, a “surprising” 38 percent of parents indicated that they were helping with rent, which is a “number that seems driven to a significant extent by job and income losses in the pandemic”.
“An even more telling indicator of young adult financial stress is the fact that 39 per cent of parents said they were helping their adult children pay for groceries,” Carrick wrote.
Moreover, “One other common form of parental support is help paying monthly costs such as cellphone bills and car insurance – pretty much half of parents indicated they’re doing this.”
In B.C., provincial health regulations that took effect on November 19 limit social gatherings to people’s immediate households.
The policy will remain in place up to December 7, and with the continued rise of new COVID-19 infections, it is likely to continue throughout the month.
The imposition of physical distancing does not mean that Christmas should be gloomy.
There are many creative ways to celebrate Christmas, both with one’s own household and members of the extended family.
For family members who are not part of the household, virtual events can be arranged for such things as dinners and wine tasting.
Gifts can be sent to family members living elsewhere. For those nearby, food can be dropped off at their door or porch.
For one’s household, one can go crazy with decorating the home for the holiday season. Besides, home is where the family is going to spend most of their time.
A festive soundtrack or musical play list can set the mood at home.
A family can also try new things, like cooking or baking together. Crafts could provide a lot of fun, like making Christmas-theme face masks.
This Christmas could also be a good time to bring out and watch old videos of the family.
In short, we should not let COVID-19 steal the ‘merry’ out of Christmas.
From all of us at Canadian Filipino Net, we wish you dear readers Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
For The CFNet Editorial Board