It’s that time of year again – December. Meaning 2021 is coming to a close.
After the crazy we’ve had these past 20-21 months, you would think we’re finally entitled to end this year of 2021 with some yuletide cheer right?
Yet here we are again. Another Covid Christmas; with no clear end in sight to this global pandemic. [Glaring at you Omicron…but from a safe distance of course!]
As I wrap up my essay uploads for 2021 with this final post of the year (and take a much-needed break for the rest of December), I feel that the conflicted Christmas (and end 2020) feelings I had haven’t quite left me yet.
My Conflicted Christmas Musings, circa 2020
Back on December 16, 2020, I mused about what Christmas had become for me over the decades.
From the “Osmonds” days of my childhood to my accepting Jesus as my Lord and Saviour at 16. To the commercialisation of the season in my adulthood. It almost felt like a roller-coaster as I retraced my steps over the past 50 years.
Then a week after that post, I mused yet again.
This time, the trigger was the sight of a delivery van bringing new Christmas parcels and gifts to different households in my neighbourhood. It was a sight that got me thinking again about the meaning of the season. Especially when, just a few feet away from that van, the sight of a large recycling bin overflowing with throwaway parcels and used empty cartons of what likely once held similar gifts, was simply too ironic to ignore!
Yes, it’s hard not to see the conflicting signs of Christmas; the conflicting signs of our times.
Wants and Wastes.
Gifts and Garbage.
Carols and Covids.
Recalling these past 12 months
The year 2021 began in January with much hope across the world as the first shipments of Covid vaccines made its rounds, starting with inoculations for the elderly and those most vulnerable.
Surely this would be the beginning of a restoration to the life we all had before Covid right?
Well, we know how that turned out!
February came and the world was rocked by news of a shocking military coupe d’état in Myanmar. Sadly, the world outside her could only look on and wring their collective hands in seeming anguish but plaintive helplessness.
Myanmar continues to live today under a still-gloating and triumphant military junta, one that this past week sentenced ousted leader and Nobel-laureate Aung Sang Suu Kyi to two years in prison.
Talk about de ja vu on reboot!
And the hits just kept on coming!!
In between, we saw:
— the Suez Canal blocked in March by a ginormous container ship, affecting global trade
— multiple shooting incidents in the States over the course of just one week in April
— gruesome discovery in May of the remains of over 200 children who had “disappeared” ten years ago in Canada
— a huge gas explosion in a Chinese city that left at least 13 people dead in June
— the 2020 Olympic Games finally taking place in July, one year late. (And unfortunately this same month, a fatal killing of a 13-year old boy in a high school here by another boy just two years older — a first in our nation)
In September Pfizer sought approval to use its Covid vaccine on kids 5 to 12 years of age. (Fast forward to yesterday when my government announced it would proceed to inoculate kids here, starting end December 2021. I can almost feel every parent in the land wringing their hands now — “my baby’s still so young; to jab or not to jab?”)
Et tu December?
Overcoming conflict and conflicted-ness
It’s hard to keep one’s chin up in the face of so much doom and gloom. Like trying valiantly albeit foolishly to withstand an avalanche or tsunami with nothing but the shirts on our backs.
Or worse, with full metal jackets. Insanely expecting to best the raw power of nature with misplaced human bravado.
Instead, one way I’ve tried to tackle this “conflicted-ness” within me as I muse over these sobering global disasters and conflicts, is to do what I’ve advocated for the longest time on this blog — go small!
Meaning, I let the teeny-tiny minutiae of my humdrum daily life in this little corner of my world be my compass, my stay. Restoring my sanity and keeping me grounded daily in what I can control and what keeps me hopeful; especially when everything and everywhere else offers nothing but chaos and confusion.
So with that in mind, since January 1st, I’ve laundry-listed everyday things my family and I are thankful for.
And now, with just a few days remaining til Dec 31st, I’ve pretty much collected enough material to single out 12 “Thanksgiving-of-the-Month” items to share here.
Hopefully next year when the world’s gripped by bad news, I can look back at this “12-point compass” and smile once again.
My “thanksgiving compass” 2021
January — C, my autistic son, walked through the gates of his new school campus on the first day of school. All. By. Himself!
February — I was offered an additional part-time teaching gig in another reputable local tertiary institution.
March — I was touched by yet another Pixar hit to pen a film review on my blog.
April — My wife and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. Imagine that — 21!
May — I completed my 200th blog post since starting my blog in April 2019! (And just think, nine more after this and I’ll hit 300!! I’m on a regular roll I am!)
June — I wrapped up our first family staycation holiday since Covid began.
August — his older brother J single-handedly brought C out to the playground; and C didn’t whine!
September — I read (and reviewed) my first “tragi-romance” novel in a VERY VERY long time!
October — J successfully completed his first national school exams.
November — J achieved delightful results from the exam; results that fulfilled his secretly-held wishes!
December — first time C let his brother teach him how to cycle on C’s “new” second-hand bicycle.
In fact, there were plenty more to be thankful for than the above list revealed. Which I must say was a most unexpected but totally satisfying discovery for an often-thankless sceptic like me.
Guess life truly can be great if we know what and where to look for abiding greatness!
So here’s wishing one and all an abidingly great, thankful Christmas. And a new year not filled with conflicts and conflicted-ness, but brimming with hope and indefatigable confidence!
God bless til we meet again in 2022!!