Last Christmas if somebody would have mentioned COVID-19 to us, we would probably figure it was some college quarterback we never heard of wearing number 19 in a bowl game.
Since then the coronavirus that weeps with menace and leaves blisters on hearts has hit the world harder than a runaway convoy of tractor trailers.
We now know only too well that without the vaccine we human beings are frail vessels and often no match for a virus with such an uproarious appetite for destruction.
Sadly, COVID-19 also has cast a scalding eye on the holiday glow.
For most of us this year, there will be no extended family get-togethers and holiday parties where the chuckles come out like bubbles. Hold the eggnog for another Christmas. We must sequester in our hive honeycombed for survival.
Forget the office Christmas parties as well since most folks work virtually these days. Watching your former cubicle mates getting drunk on Zoom doesn’t have the same appeal.
Granted, spending the holidays in cloistered isolation is about as exciting as eating Tuna Helper for Christmas dinner.
But you can fill the time by watching your hairline recede or alphabetizing your canned goods or memorizing the dictionary or waiting for Godot since Santa may not be coming to town depending on your governor’s wishes.
Indeed, with the pandemic expanding like a weather balloon, a muted Christmas celebration is the best we can expect.
After all, going to church on Christmas could kill you.
COVID-19 also is wiping out some people financially. Food lines unspool endlessly. Hungry folks begin to look like broom handles. The only thing thinner than them are their wallets.
No wonder the traditional festive yuletide spirit has been swallowed up by gloom and doom. It’s enough to make us stuff all our Tiny Tims and grinches in our Christmas stockings until next year.
Undaunted, my wife once again has beautifully decorated the interior of our home for Christmas. But this year she and I may be the only ones to see it. At least we can share it together.
The best Christmas present this year anybody can receive is avoiding or surviving COVID-19.
If it takes a less personal Christmas season with a lack of physical touch among loved ones to achieve that, the sacrifice is worth the reward.
If we realize that the joy we derive from the holidays is intrinsic and resides in our hearts, COVID-19 doesn’t have to be the virus that stole Christmas.
Mask up, social distance, stay home when you can and have a safe and well Merry Christmas.
Mike Zielinski, a resident of Berks County, is a columnist, novelist, playwright and screenwriter.