“I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.” ~Ebenezer Scrooge/Charles Dickens
After a very long 2020, it is time for the most wonderful time of the year—the holidays. Although COVID-19 and the cold are moving us back inside for unconventional seasonal celebrations. Our hearts persist. There is something about the winter holidays, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanza, that reminds us to appreciate the gifts we have all year through.
The Gift of Lights
Hanukkah is a celebration of the miracle of light. Through a miracle, lamp oil that wouldn’t last a day kept the lamp in the Temple burning for 8 days. However accurate or inaccurate the stories of Hanukkah gifts are, the gifts are said to be small presents, primarily of necessity. (Yes, socks and underwear are included). While the celebration takes place from December 10 to December 18 this year, I invite everyone to appreciate simple gifts throughout the year.
We miss the interaction with our co-workers—it just isn’t the same on screen. This makes us thankful for having a job to do and a team to support.
The Gift of Peace
Unlike Hanukkah, Christmas is celebrated on December 25 every year. At the center of the holiday is the birth of Jesus who came to bring peace to the earth. Gifts were brought to Jesus by 3 wisemen and likewise we gift one another with gifts this time of year. So many of us asked for more flexible work environments and, like a loving aunt, 2020 got it for us. And just like a child’s favorite Christmas gift, after a short time, it got old—fast. Unfortunately, we cannot regift 2020, and really, who would want it? 2020 is like the dreaded fruitcake.
The gift of peace has been given to us this year by having it taken from us. Returning to our office spaces is high on our list of wishes. The interrupting colleague is no match for a 2nd grader who needs help with math. For those of us who worked at home regularly before the pandemic, routines have changed making a return to uninterrupted hours in a home office welcome when it comes.
The Gift of Culture
Like Christmas, the celebration of African American and pan-African holiday is set each year. Family, community, and culture are observed by organizing activities around seven core principles that are celebrated daily from December 26 through January 1. Kwanza is welcome to anyone, making it a wonderful way to learn about the symbols of the season:
- Umoja (Unity)
- Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
- Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
- Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
- Nia (Purpose)
- Kuumba (Creativity)
- Imani (Faith)
The holiday is ended with a day of dedicated to reflection and recommitment to the seven principles. These principles, or what I call gifts, will help us continue to adapt to our changing landscape.
The holidays are but 6 weeks, yet they seem to stand out more than the other 46 weeks of the year. The focus we are putting into this season of COVID makes it feel like it’s overshadowing our lives. We are asking for presents of presence, that is we want things to be like they were: coworkers, office spaces, teamwork, collaboration, and yes, even frustration. If we can give ourselves the gift of remembering Christmas past and contrasting it to Christmas present, we know that Christmas future will bring new gifts. We will take the gifts we’ve cultivated in this season, adaptability, confidence, and communication, into the new year no matter what changes come our way.
Happy holidays to you and yours. May it be said of you as it was of Scrooge, that you kept Christmas, and the gifts of the holiday season, in your heart.