Have we finally uncovered the “true meaning” of Christmas?

picture book illustrator

We have lost count of the amount of times we’ve heard things like: “this has been a year like no other,” and other such phrases. It’s true, this has been a year like no other. But then, isn’t every year different from the last? Of course, some people have experienced a significant amount of loss this year, so please don’t think that we are trying to make light of a truly devastating time. But we were wondering if this shared experience of 2020 has been able to shed some light on the true meaning of the festive season.

childrens picture book

There are a lot of questions that have a lot of different answers depending on who you ask. If you have had a particularly difficult year, perhaps one marred by sadness, then your 2020 would probably have few positive points. There are some of us who are relatively untouched by the events of the year, who have only really suffered loss of liberty and spontaneity. Whilst these things have undeniably taken their toll on people, not least their mental health and wellbeing, it has also allowed people to open up more and talk about their problems, as well as given some very good people the chance to either continue supporting those in hardship or who are unwell, but also for people to open up new avenues of support, to build new charities and to create new ways to help others. There have been people who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their jobs, and those who have done all they can to ease terrified children back into their school routines, and hold their hands as they continue to learn and educate themselves.

childrensbooks-happydesigner

Whatever 2020 has meant to you, it has most certainly touched everyone, and the events of this year will live on past this generation’s memory. This Christmas, for example, will look different for everyone. You may not celebrate Christmas, but you will certainly be aware of it around you. Nearly all of us will have a little time off and will hopefully be able to spend a little time, safely, with their loved ones. Whilst there are still some restrictions to be taken into account, there will be some people who can finally see their mum and dad, or other loved ones, in a safe manner. But that in itself seems odd to say, that we should be so worried about what we could do to our family in these unprecedented times. One thing is absolutely for sure though, whatever we do with this time off and/or together this Christmas, it will be a celebration of togetherness like no other. Even if you are eating a family lunch over video call, or through a window. Perhaps you are lucky enough to be able to see family safely for a few days, or visit a loved one in a care home. Even if we have not all been like Scrooge in the past, this year has shown us the ghosts of past, present and of future, and we have all been shown what matters most to us as humans. To see our loved ones, to play with our grandchildren, to be able to pop in and see mum in the care home.

childrens picture book illustrator

We all have lists of the first thing we are going to be able to do once we are able to live more “normally” again, and up there with “have a normal meal out,” “go to a live gig,” or “go on holiday,” is “see our family and friends”. The things that have been cancelled this year, weddings, holidays, meals out, live music, are the things that bring us together, shared experiences that give us memories, anecdotes, funny stories. The things we can rely on to cheer us up in hard times, and that bring us together as humans, as social beings. This goes for Christmas too, the idea of being brought together and experiencing something joyful; even if you don’t celebrate Christmas itself the message is universal. So, in this strange year, when we can’t be close to those we love, we have all found ways of adapting and changing our lives to continue our relationships with those we love. Many of us have had to triumph over adversity, and have had to change our interactions with loved ones to keep them safe. It feels wrong, as humans, to not be with one another physically, but we know it is likely to be the best thing for everyone. But the true spirit of Christmas, or the Solstice, Hanukkah, or just the festive season, whatever you celebrate at this time of year, is about love and friendship, and being kind to one another. Surely if Scrooge learned anything, it was that family and friends are the most important thing, as well as giving and being kind. However you choose to spend your festive season, try to go forwards with kindness in your heart and head, and with consideration for others who may be a little more anxious than you. Try to keep the magic of this time of year alive for children, or spoil yourself with a hot bubbly bath and a good book. Maybe you are able to donate to charity or a local foodbank, or perhaps you are able to safely visit your family and friends. Whatever you do, keep safe, stay happy and try not to put too much pressure on yourself! This year is the year for embracing the true spirit of Christmas: love!

picture book illustrator