Toronto Star

Not everything will change this holiday season

- JENNIFER COLE CONTRIBUTO­R Jennifer Cole is a Vancouver-based freelance writer.

The holidays are a time to believe anything is possible.

It’s been hard to find that belief in 2020. With COVID-19 infections skyrocketi­ng, public displays of festive lights and other December traditions are meeting the COVID-19 axe. Out of necessity, public health officials have imposed restrictio­ns on social gatherings and travel. The holidays are destined to be different this year.

Hopefully, Santa is considered an essential worker, and can travel throughout Canada on Christmas Eve without quarantini­ng for 14 days. Although he appears to be a senior, I like to think that Santa’s magical quality means he has innate antibody resistance to the virus. It’s good Santa won’t have to wait for a COVID-19 vaccine like the rest of us — it would be difficult to pinpoint his exact age, due to his many personas throughout history.

There are accounts of an ancient Norse god, Odin, and his flying horse, Sleipnir. On the eve of the winter solstice, children left treats for Sleipnir. Odin came down chimneys, took the treats and left presents. An early incarnatio­n of Santa?

But it’s St. Nicholas of Turkey most often credited as the inspiratio­n. His habit of secretly leaving gifts for children made him the original “Secret Santa.”

He immigrated to North America under the pseudonym Sinterklas­s. On the night before St. Nicholas’ Feast Day on Dec. 6, children hung stockings by the hearth. During the night, Sinterklas­s filled them with treats.

In 1823, Clement Clarke Moore wrote “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” The poem inspired cartoonist Thomas Nast’s 1863 drawings for Harper’s Weekly.

Those images helped immortaliz­e the modern ideas of Santa Claus, who now lives at the North Pole with Mrs. Claus, receiving mail. On Christmas Eve, he delivers toys around the world with efficiency unmatched by even Amazon Prime.

I remember writing to Santa, believing my dreams would come true. It verged on miraculous, waking up Christmas morning to find he’d actually visited.

As we age, wonderment becomes reality. That’s sad because this year a little Santa magic would go a long way. I decorated for Christmas early, hoping to capture that belief that anything’s possible. I kept thinking that maybe when I take the decoration­s down in January, I’ll be able to see loved ones in long-term-care homes.

In 1897, The (New York) Sun printed an editorial responding to an eight-year-old, whose friends had told her Santa wasn’t real.

The Sun’s editor wrote: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love, and generosity and devotion exist ... The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.”

The holidays will be different this year. But not everything has to change.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada