Christmas Holidays Reporter's Notebook

The best Christmas present is hope for next year

Many a family Monopoly game didn't happen this year because of the pandemic. (Daniel Cleary/YJI)

DUBLIN – 2020 was the strangest of years. When the clock strikes midnight next Thursday night, I don’t think there will be too many tears shed as the year fades into the abyss. 

We all knew the Christmas of 2020 was going to be an unforgettable, or an extremely forgettable one, whichever way you want to look at it.

Christmas in Ireland, like so many other countries, is a family occasion. Houses bulge as family from home and abroad all gather round the table for turkey, ham and a game of Monopoly.

Chocolates are shared and rows begin over whether the “banker” is fairly distributing the Monopoly cash. It’s a memorable time, the one day a year where old and young sit side by side in relative harmony.

But that wasn’t the case this year. With all gastropubs and restaurants being ordered to close at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve as part of a new lockdown to curb the spread of the new variants of the coronavirus recently discovered in Britain, the mood this year was somewhat somber.

Small gatherings of households were permitted, but many opted not to risk it.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is the resilient nature of humans. The coronavirus pandemic is unlike anything faced by any of us before.

We have had to rethink the way we do everything, from a trip to the supermarket to a visit to a relative’s house. Less technologically adept senior citizens have become experts at the use of Zoom and the bedroom has suddenly become the office.

I decided to go for a walk around the local park to get some air. Christmas Day in Dublin was brisk and fresh, but thankfully dry. As I walked around Marlay Park, I was struck by people’s ingenuity, in finding new ways to enjoy Christmas with their loved ones, old and young.

I witnessed numerous families exchanging gifts, on the picnic benches, in the fields and in the car park. It hit a poignant note with me, seeing these people whose year has been utterly destroyed, pick themselves up and go again.

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions for the sake of them. But I think we should all be inspired by these people.

At the time of this writing, the first vaccines are due to arrive in Ireland today, on St. Stephen’s Day, and immunization is due to begin next week. They’re the Pfizer-BioNTech ones. Moderna and AstraZeneca aren’t far away. There is hope. 

Those families are the epitome of hope. Let’s hope next Christmas, those people will be able to gather in a nice, warm household and hug each other once more.

Daniel Cleary is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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