There’s a classic scene in the 1991 film Robin Hood; Prince of Thieves in which the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham (the late Alan Rickman) issues an angry edict.
“Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans; no more merciful beheadings … and call off Christmas.”
It was funny then, 30 years ago, when such an idea seemed unthinkable.
Some may feel that the extension of COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings for a second straight Christmas is tantamount to the same thing.
Being unable to welcome guests and homecoming loved ones – from near or afar – definitely hurts. So does not being able to go out to parties, concerts and other community events that enrich our Christmas experience.
But we’re doing far better than those who dealt with the flu pandemic of 1918-21 or the generation whose hopes and dreams were on hold while the Second World War raged.
As the last two years have shown, many household technologies offer us plenty of opportunities to keep not merely diverted but connected.
And is it really so bad to avoid some of the excesses of Christmases past by keeping our celebrations small and intimate?
If there is ever a time to take a pause and count our blessings, this is it. Making the most of togetherness with our children and closest family members – or for those who live alone, a few close friends and neighbours – is an opportunity we often miss.
We may even have time to look beyond our comforts and think about others less fortunate than ourselves and the small but meaningful ways in which we can spread the joy of the season by helping those who need it most.
And that, indeed, is what Christmas is all about.
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