Holiday spirit will be hard to muster this year, but it’s needed now more than ever. The Christmas tree outside City Hall in Penticton was helping to bring some cheer Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)

Holiday spirit will be hard to muster this year, but it’s needed now more than ever. The Christmas tree outside City Hall in Penticton was helping to bring some cheer Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)

COLUMN: It’s hard to find happy in these holidays

It is hard to find happiness in these holidays, still we must try

It has been a rough year.

That is probably, certainly an understatement.

The holidays will be hard for many of us.

We won’t be gathering in groups, we won’t be meeting with friends and family – those outside our own bubble of course – and there will be no festivals or light-up celebrations or even New Year’s fireworks.

Christmas dinner in too many homes this year will be a sombre affair, with spots at tables empty or stockings and trees left bare. There is no escaping that this pandemic has left its mark on people from every walk of life.

READ MORE: The empty chair: Canadians face first Christmas without loved ones lost to COVID-19

It is hard to find happiness in these holidays.

Still, I think that especially in times like these, we have to try.

It is possible to take some measure of comfort in knowing that what we are looking at in the Okanagan could be much worse.

We are constantly bombarded with the record numbers of deaths and cases around the world, and even from other provinces.

Saying it could be better is no comfort for those who have lost a loved one, their livelihoods, and even their homes.

As much as our governments – municipal, provincial and federal – have been able to weather the pandemic and help people, there is so much more that they could do. That they need to do.

Just because we cleared a low bar, doesn’t mean there isn’t a higher goal to strive towards reaching.

Because at the end of the day, it’s not about what ideas the government can propose, but about the people who can make them real.

Movie after movie, and story after story, tries to hammer home a lesson on the “true meaning of Christmas.”

What that exact meaning is changes between them. Yet, almost all agree, at their core, it is about caring for one another.

If there is one thing that this pandemic has done, it has highlighted how important it is that people care for one another.

That is not just in supporting local business or donating to charity, but in sacrifice. Sacrifice of the time we share with friends, sacrifice of our entertainment, sacrifice of the many things that make life fun, or bearable.

It’s a harsh light that shone down, and it showed us the heroes in our hospitals and in our everyday lives.

It also showed us where the system has failed, where we can improve and be better, and the true nature of people. I hope that we come away from this stronger than before.

One thing that we can be happy about is that light also has shown us a path that we are heading towards, leading to a not-so-distant future end to this pandemic.

Of course, even after everyone who can get a vaccine has it, there will still be much more work left to do.

People and businesses have debts that won’t vanish, those who survived catching the virus will have lifelong medical conditions they will need help with, and our focus can finally be turned away to the opioid epidemic and the housing crises in our communities.

But things will get better.

It will take work, and it won’t come cheaply, but eventually things will get better.

This year will stay with us for many more to come, and I can only hope, and imagine, that the future will outshine it.

That is something I think we can all be happy for.

READ MORE: Health Canada approves Moderna COVID vaccine; 1.2M doses of two vaccines expected by Jan. 31

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