This has been an unusual year for all of us. Every month has been packed with tragedies, which for many got only worse with time, and for some better. The pandemic locked us all in, exposing us to a new world, and challenging us to a new normal which many of us are still struggling to live in.
When WHO declared the strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as a global pandemic, I was observing my Lenten abstinence and occasional fasts, and looking forward to go shopping for easter eggs and special chocolate to treat myself to on Easter Sunday. All those hopes came crumbling down. Yet, I tried to stay optimistic and enjoyed my new found solace. But things only went downhill from there, and living at that time in the United States did not make it any better. I hoped to be back home, safe and sound, as soon as possible and perhaps be able to venture out in the open in time for my 22nd birthday. But that wasn't meant to be and ever since then, I kept a countdown for when I can go out in the open to celebrate Christmas — the festive glee, shopping for home decors and gifts, and, very importantly, return to church to participate in the Eucharistic celebration with a large gathering. But with the advent and rise of tide of the second wave, my hopes for Advent also began falling, and plumetting. And so, Christmas for the first time ever in my life is behind closed doors. And the doors, which only open for my dad coming back from work or shopping, and for urgent maintenance work, may remain closed to your big, cheerful self and thoughtful presents.
I always look forward to when I can write and mail letters to you and open up the reply wrapped in pretty paper, albeit knowing the reality behind the Santa Claus. It’s a warm feeling, which only grew warmer since my visit to your office and land in Finland last summer. However, given the pandemic and the extra precautions we have been following, I don’t think my mom’s OCD can handle more packages unless they are necessary to our survival.
Yes, saying it out loud makes it seem like a bleak Christmas. But if baby Jesus could sleep in a manger with the mooing cattle constantly disturbing his sleep, I can celebrate Christmas with no gifts. And after all, isn’t Christmas more about giving than receiving anyways?
The pandemic has shown me what the world desperately needs, and the havoc it has wrecked has made us a more resilient race. Celebrating Christmas indoors will not stop us from being magnanimous in our wishes, and gifts of love and joy for those who need it. We unfortunately don’t have a Happy Prince with a swallow as his buddy, so if it was up to me I would tell you to give my share of presents to those who would need it more than me. So in this letter, I ask you maybe cross off my name from the list this time? I guess I have got more than enough gifts this year and was one of the lucky ones who had a safe passage home, no want for my essential needs, and uninterrupted access to education.
Oh Dear Santa, this Christmas is very different for you as well. Maybe you’re quarantined in a snow-globe to test negative before riding across the world on your sleigh of nine-reindeer-power (or more… Rudolph’s song is quite old and has never changed with the times of increasing horse power) when you receive my letter. I sincerely hope you’re staying well and safe given your advancing age, and so are your pixies.
The vaccination has become a great Christmas gift for many of us, and I still wait patiently for my first shot. Though the good tidings of news of medical advancement and reducing numbers are now overshadowed by the outbreak of a new strain of the virus, I am trying to stay positive equipped by prayers and courage to move forward, staying put behind closed doors for waves of the disease to recede.
With the hopes of a better 2021, and the gratitude of being with my family and counting my blessings I look forward to Friday, December 25. Merry Christmas, Dear Santa Claus.