Reflections on Holidays in a Pandemic
Updated: Dec 7, 2020
I have been thinking about what it means to have a holiday season in a pandemic. Now, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas are far from the first holidays of this pandemic. We have celebrated Passover and Easter and Ramadan and Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and birthdays and Memorial Day and Labor Day and the 4th of July and Halloween and Diwali in this pandemic. But this is a moment where we are celebrating - and missing our celebrations - together. And there is meaning in both of these things - the celebrations and the missing of the celebrations.
I love Thanksgiving and Hanukkah and Christmas (in whatever order they fall in). As I have written about before: READ MORE.
I am not one who likes to smush holidays together. In our family, we keep Christmas and Hanukkah separate - even when they fall on the same days. But there is a thread that binds these two celebrations together - they are celebrations of light. For Jews, Hanukkah celebrates the flames in the Temple in Jerusalem following an improbable military victory. For Christians, Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth who was called the Light of the World.
These days, this winter, will feel very dark. There is isolation. There is sickness. There is anxiety. So what does the light mean in these dark days? Are we waiting for God to perform a miracle - through miracles and saviors? Or is the light something different?
Whether you are a theist or a humanist or some combination thereof, I would argue that each of us has a light within us. Perhaps you believe, as I do, that the light was placed in us by God as each of us was created in the image of the Divine. Perhaps you believe that the light within us is nature. But regardless of how the light was placed there, this holiday season is a chance for us to nurture and share our light with each other and the world. Even though we are physically separated, we still have the power to bring joy and love and light to those who need it.
May each of you be blessed in this coming year with health, happiness, friends, family, and - when safe again - hugs.