It’s difficult to know what to make of the holiday season this year.
It’s a period with religious significance for many, and in a normal year would be filled with family celebrations, parties, church services and shopping. But not in 2020. There’s no sitting on Santa’s lap in the mall this year, nor singing along in person to the “Hallelujah Chorus” at the Kennedy Center.
The same global warming that has contributed to Alexandria’s flooding woes has also given us a warm, lengthy fall – meaning, it doesn’t feel or look much like Christmas or Hanukkah. Aside from five minutes of flurries, there’s been no snow. Bah, COVID-19.
The holiday season is magical for some, particularly the young, but can be torturous for those who have lost loved ones. Eighty-one Alexandrians have succumbed to COVID-19, and with nearly 300,000 deaths from this disease nationwide in just 10 months, its ripples of impact are getting ever wider.
Others have lost their jobs or companies due to the pandemic’s mandated business shutdowns and economic fallout. Still others haven’t fully recovered physically from the coronavirus, or psychologically from stress, fear and worry.
We mourn our losses. We pray for comfort and healing. And we hope that the new year will bring better days – along with a widely available vaccine.
There’s something else that we can do though, and it’s something that Alexandrians excel at. We can give.
Many people traditionally make year-end gifts to nonprofits. In recent years, “Giving Tuesday” – the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving – has been a catalyst for reminding people to make their year-end donations. Whenever they’re done, donations are needed this year more than ever.
Nonprofits in Alexandria and beyond have responded to the surge in hardship generated by the pandemic, but they can only feed, clothe, house, heal and teach if they have funds and volunteers. Many people who have volunteered in years past are unable to this year because of health concerns, while others who have donated money or goods can’t in 2020 because they have suffered loss of income.
But those who can, please consider giving even more generously than usual, to make up for those who would like to contribute but this year simply can’t.
Give to your favorite nonprofit, or consider one of three mainstays in Alexandria: The Campagna Center, which serves the city’s children and families, but lost its major annual fundraiser when the Scottish Walk weekend was cancelled; Volunteer Alexandria, which coordinates volunteer efforts across the city; or ACT for Alexandria, our city’s clearinghouse for donors and giving.
‘Tis the season. For celebrating, yes, even in a pandemic. But also for giving. Happy holidays!