Last year, we were wishing that by Christmas 2021, “all our troubles will be out of sight.” Well, not so much, unfortunately.

This Christmas Day dawns in a nation overwhelmed by a new variant of the dreaded, deadly COVID-19 that is spreading like wildfire. Our hospitals are crowded to the breaking point, mostly with people who have so far refused to get vaccinated against the disease.

And we can’t forget that the death toll from the pandemic has climbed to a previously inconceivable level, more than 800,000 people.

Our politics seem as riven as ever, with headline after headline about the real dangers to our democratic republic, and of the failures of the national government to do much to address the problems our nation faces.

And the economy. It is better, but not as good as we had expected.

But enough, already!

Christmas is the season of hope, and even a grinch would have to admit we have a bit more hope this year than we did last year.

President Biden reminded us this week that, despite the omicron variant, we are not back to where we were in the darkest days at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. We are certainly better off this year than we were for the last Christmas holiday season.

The biggest change of course is the vaccine. Introduced just one year ago, about two-thirds of the country has at least begun getting inoculated against COVID-19. We need a lot more people to get the shot if we have hope of achieving herd immunity, but we have come a long way.

If you are vaccinated and have received the recommended booster shot, you have very strong protections against the virus. If you should get a breakthrough infection anyway, you are far less likely to become seriously ill, hospitalized or die.

It is very clear that the vaccine has made a huge difference in our country, its impact only limited by those who stubbornly refused to get one.

As the result of that miraculous protection, the holidays this year promise to be so much better for so many families. The fully vaccinated and boosted have been advised that they can once again join with their friends and loved ones in celebration.

So much of life has returned to a new kind of normal for so many people. Restaurants and bars — most of them at least — have reopened and customers are returning. Shortages of employees has limited hours for many establishments, but they are open.

Stores are welcoming shoppers, especially if they will agree to wear a mask to limit exposure to the virus. Sales are up at many businesses in the historic district of Frederick and around the community.

Movie theaters are open and showing new films, though patronage is a little thin at times. Many people are still rightfully leery of big crowds.

The Weinberg Center for the Performing Arts has lined up some wonderful shows, and you will be welcomed if you show you are vaccinated and will wear a mask while attending.

Those of us who survive this pandemic will never forget the fear, the pain, the wrenching changes to everyday life. We will never forget those loved ones who have been lost, and many a holiday table will have an empty chair today. They will live on in our memories, but we will always remember how they were taken before their time.

But, still, we need to celebrate what we have this holiday season, and what we have regained since last year. Let us try to look ahead to better days to come.

Your friends at The News-Post wish you a Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

(1) comment

public-redux

It has become a Christmas tradition for me to post “Merry Christmas From the Family” by Robert Earl Keen. So, once again:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P37xPiRz1sg

People who are easily offended may wish to avoid it.

May your Christmas be as you wish it to be.

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