Thursday, December 10, 2020

Christmas? What Christmas?

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly from the series "Lebanon's history"
2020 just claimed its latest casualty - Christmas. No, no, am not inventing some "war on Christmas" as right-wingers love to pretend in the US. Really, nothing looks like Christmas. Sure, you might say it has been so for a few years. But that is not true, everyone was still capable of entering the mood - merchants played the game, fake snow was on the shop windows, santas were in malls, animations for kids, you know - the whole she bang. Oh, and advertising on the billboards, quite a few advertising on the billboards not only for Christmas, but mainly for New Year's Even in restaurants and hotels, even if last year it was mainly C and D listers.

But this year, it is full blown crisis. A perfect storm on all fronts. Sure, we put Christmas trees with flickering lights in our houses. But between the coronavirus (with people avoiding visits), and the general mood of tiredness, disillusion, and all around defeatism after a truly horrible year on several levels - be it economic, political, personal, oh and add an explosion which ranked sixth largest accidental explosions - definitely no one is in the mood to "celebrate".

The weather is still clement at this stage, which is oddly positive as many people no longer have roofs above their heads - both metaphorically and literally. The percentage of poverty has increased sporadically due to the severe devaluation of the currency. And understandably, no one has the strength to play-pretend anymore.

Not sure if these can count as silver linings, but there indeed many initiatives to care about the people, from the people (Beit El Baraka and FabricAid come to mind, and am sure there are others...). I am not defending our government's total haphazard response from top to bottom (not sure anyone has a plan, no matter how vague!), but that regular people are stepping up to the plate where no one else did is truly impressive and commendable. In the end, now is the time to agglomerate as a population and to stand by one another.

Weirdly, if this is not what Christmas is all about, then I wonder what is.