I purchased the angel that sits atop our Christmas tree while on a trip to Mexico many years ago. She’s hammered tin with a painted face and poised to sing carols from a songbook clasped in her hands.
This year she’s going to take a break and sit on the skirt beneath the tree, replaced by a shiny little star purchased online.
Why? Quite simply because I’m in need of a guiding light to get through what’s left of this difficult and unusual year.
My inspiration for the star comes from the Christian tradition, but other religions also find symbolism in light. Most noticeable is Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights — celebrated for eight days this month and casting light toward better times ahead.
I’ve been hopeful recently that light will be shining into the darkness soon.
The brilliant scientists who have worked tirelessly to create and test a successful vaccine in record time give me this optimism. It may be months before most of us have the remedy available, but knowing it’s coming soon to frontline workers and the most fragile in our communities is a bright first step toward ending the dark grip of this coronavirus pandemic.
Still, I know it’s going to be difficult for many of us to forgo holiday gatherings this month. Like many of you, I’m canceling my annual family tree-decorating dinner. Even with family nearby, health considerations make it prudent to limit the number of people at any gathering.
And the friends and relatives who typically travel to the area for the holidays are wisely staying home. We will miss them. But, hopefully, this is the only year we’ll need to postpone gathering. I’m convinced that by 2021, we’ll be back eggnog-ing with the best of them!
We are lucky to be in South Florida where it’s easy to hold activities outdoors in the balmy December weather.
So if our gatherings stay small and we wear our masks indoors — or when unable to maintain social distancing outside — it’s really not that much of a sacrifice on behalf of the health of our loved ones and our community.
I believe that if we’re kind, patient and share a little empathy for others over the next few months, we can cautiously plan for a future without the dark cloud of a novel coronavirus hovering overhead.
Next year, the angel should be back on top of the Christmas tree.
This year, I’m hopeful the new star will not only shine a light toward an end to this pandemic, but also inspire me to be a light, helping to guide the way for others struggling in the dark. After all, that is the true holiday spirit. Pandemic or not.
— Mary Kate Leming, Editor