Celebrating Christmas and the end of 2020
It is Christmastime and the end of 2020, and it has been one doozey of a year. No church, no Christmas parties, no large weddings, no family gatherings and no fun. It is absolutely against COVID-19 guidelines to engage in merriment. I sense too many governors have been replace by Krampus the brother of Saint Nicholas. In Alpine folklore, Krampus, is a horned creature who resembles the Devil. During the Christmas season, Krampus scares children who have misbehaved. On December 5 he rewards good children with chocolates and oranges while bad children receive birch rods for whipping.
There is a 2015 comedy horror movie, Krampus, that I would not recommend for young children. My 4-year-old grandson, who is a little too much like Dennis the Menace for my comfort zone, watched it recently at home with his 6-year-old sister. It horrified both of them but also seems to have power over him. Whenever Ellie doesn’t like what Everett is doing, she whispers, “Krampus” to him and he screams.
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The week of Christmas, before COVID-19, was the most enjoyable week of the year in elementary and middle schools. My sixth-grade class and I strung popcorn and covered pinecones with peanut butter and bird seed, then hung them on the bushes on Central Avenue for the birds and squirrels. The school chorus roamed the hall singing Christmas carols, the stage was covered in poinsettias, cafeteria ladies wore Santa hats and the classrooms in the red building each had a live Christmas tree decorated with ornaments made by the students. The kids reeked of peanut butter and candy canes while glitter sparkled on their hair and faces. It was a happy week for us all.
This year our children have none of that. My granddaughter’s kindergarten teacher is fantastic, and her enthusiasm is commendable, but each day of remote school I sit beside my granddaughter, Ellie, as we spend a quarter of the time waiting for the other students to find their page, take the book off their head or stop arguing with a sibling. We do page after page, play a game with the teacher, or listen to a story. Ellie is learning to read and do math, but she is not making friends and learning to love school.
Our children are not learning what in-person school has offered for centuries and they are absolutely suffering emotionally. School is more than times tables and vocabulary words. It is making friends, confiding in a teacher, learning respect for authority, understanding to win and lose with grace and most of all learning the social skills that are needed in life. What they are discovering under COVID-19 is that learning is rote and school is boring. I am afraid our schools will never return to what they once were.
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Please greet me with Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas, Felice Navidad or Bona Natale, even if you don’t know what I celebrate. I will not call you out for being unwoke. I’ll even accept Season’s Greetings or Happy Holidays, a vintage expression that use to mean the wonderful season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, but now used as a generic term as to not offend anyone. If I say, Merry Christmas to you and you don’t celebrate it, call me out. I really don’t care, and your indignation or wrath won’t stop me from saying, “Merry Christmas.”
I’m old and I don’t have even a smidgeon of an inclination to change my opinion on anything. If my pronouns don’t match your view of yourself, oh well. If I proudly fly my American flag or put up too many yard decorations and it makes you feel bad, I won’t take them down. I also don’t like a lot of things other people like and I don’t really care. I detest solar panels, they are ugly. I don’t like hotdogs even if they are on a stick over a fire or at a Phillies game. I think football is boring and I think the election was stolen. I like what I like and I believe what I believe. I believe that leaders in this country are using the fear of COVID-19 to take away our liberties and to control our lives.
I understand people who are compromised need to be protected, but I don’t know why I can sit at a high-top table touching the bar in my favorite restaurant but can’t sit at the bar. I don’t understand why I can’t worship in person, but protesters can gather by the thousands. I am appalled that the government is deciding what businesses will flourish and which will never reopen. Questions that may never be answered. Let us all hope and pray that 2021 returns to our old lives.
Donna Brown is a former Hammonton Middle School librarian and a columnist for The Gazette. To reach Donna Brown, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.