This week, many of us will be celebrating Christmas on December 25, but there are some that hold to an old tradition of celebrating on January 7. Orthodox Christians, which make up approximately 12% of the Christian population, follow the Julian Calendar which places the holiday on January 7. The remainder of Christianity follows the Gregorian Calendar which was a reform of the older Julian calendar. In my family, we would celebrate it on both dates to satisfy my father’s parents who came from the Orthodox side of Christianity, and my mom’s side from the Catholic Church.
Even though 2020 has been a difficult year for so many throughout the world, regardless of what calendar you followed, we have much to be thankful for. Speaking for myself personally, we have seen the loss of close family members, which we will continue to feel the pain from, but feel comfort in knowing they are in a better place.
We have also struggled through a difficult time dealing with a Pandemic which has brought so much harm to so many through the loss of loved ones before their time. The additional losses economically to many friends that have suffered a devastating financial impact to their businesses is heartbreaking to all concerned and we pray for their recovery and a return to normalcy.
Our elderly population has suffered greatly, not only regarding health challenges, but the devastating effects of loneliness from being shut out of their connection with the outside world. However, technology has assisted in stemming some of those feelings of seclusion and isolation during these trying times, as creative ways to stay in contact with those we love were put in place.
Our children and their families have had to adapt to changes in how they attend school, as well as the loss of some of that important social interaction with their friends and teachers in those schools. The sacrifices made by parents and teachers to keep them on task should also be recognized. Seeing the smiles on those children’s faces as teachers did organized drive–bys to show them they were not forgotten was especially heartwarming to all that participated.
Even though we as a society were greatly challenged, we were uplifted by those that worked tirelessly to protect us as health professionals, first responders and others who put their lives on the line to ensure we received the best possible care available. Their efforts helped to save tens of thousands of lives from this invisible enemy, even though the emotional and physical cost to them will be never be truly understood.
Our scientific community responded to the challenges of developing a vaccine to battle the virus in an unprecedented time frame. It now is being distributed throughout the world as well as here at home due to a cooperative effort by government and private firms to begin the long and arduous task of providing it to all those that will take advantage of it—all of this just before the Christmas Holiday.
We as a nation have remained strong throughout this difficult time. We have done so because of the spirit which resides in us as Americans, a spirit which has seen us step up to every challenge that has come our way since the inception of our nation.
That common thread of the American Spirit helped to bring us together during this latest challenge, for we as Americans were willing to make the sacrifices necessary to help to defeat this common enemy. It was the same Spirit that helped us persevere through world conflicts to ensure the foundations of our liberty would remain strong.
One of those great gifts that we have as Americans is our positive nature and our sense of perseverance under the greatest of challenges. Yes, this last year has been a difficult one for us all, but we will recover from it and rebound stronger than before should we choose to stay strong.
Here in our own community, we see the contributions made by our churches as well as organizations such as Our Daily Food Pantry, the Island Country Club Foundation, The Joy of Giving, the Mobil Food Pantry, the Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs, the efforts of St. Vincent DePaul, the Bargain Basket, the United Way, Christmas Island Style and the Greater Marco YMCA. These are just some of the many organizations responding to the needs within our community and making Christmas a holiday we celebrate every day due to their generosity and kind deeds, and the support you give them throughout the year.
Yes, even though 2020 had its set of challenges for us all, we have to look at it in the global sense and celebrate the greatness of our community and all that it offers back to those within it.
Merry Christmas, Marco Island.