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Celebrate and remember

First slide

Last year, many of us struggled to adapt to how different Christmas looked compared to previous years.  This year, we are moving closer to something more familiar with gatherings and celebrations. While we still need to navigate some challenges, we can keep in mind three specific things this Christmas season.

Return

In 2020, 75 percent of Americans elected to not travel at Christmas. This year, the numbers of people visiting friends and families will return to levels that are closer to pre-pandemic. It will be a joy to be able to spend time with loved ones again. But make sure to remember that there may still be people in your family who are at risk. Be mindful of those who may have additional health complications or be immunocompromised. Perhaps special precautions need to be taken to safely bring everyone together again to celebrate. Discuss any concerns beforehand and come up with a plan that everyone is comfortable with. As with any family gathering, we may not agree with the perspectives and opinions of those around us. Rather than focusing on differences, let’s focus on what matters, putting any differences aside so that we can celebrate safely together.

Remember

While this will be a time of joy, it may also be a time of sadness. Holidays without loved ones are difficult, and some families have suffered many losses since the last time they were able to gather together. I was fortunate to be able to visit Catholic Charities’ St. Martin de Porres Senior Center in Alexandria on its first day open after 20 months of pandemic-driven closure. The staff had put together a board with photos  of the 11 senior participants who had passed away while the center was closed. Seeing the seniors gather and remember their lost friends and loved ones was poignant. We should allow ourselves those same moments of remembrance and take the time to reach out to those who are unable to be with us. We can let people know they are in our hearts even if they can’t be in our homes.    

Rejoice

Beyond the stresses and challenges of Christmas, let us make sure we focus on truly rejoicing. Let us feel gratitude for our many blessings, no matter how small or unexpected they may be. Our celebrations and reunions may not be perfect; they may not feel complete, but we can remember that at the center of our holiday gatherings is Christ our savior. Staying rooted in our faith helps us stay focused on what matters most. Through our faith, we can heal, moving past the hardships and despair of the past two years; experience gratitude for today; and have hope for tomorrow.

Horne is director of clinical services for diocesan Catholic Charities.

Find out more

To make a teletherapy appointment with a Catholic Charities counselor, call 703/859-3147 or 703/447-9402.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021