The Christmas season usually is the most wonderful time of the year. But Christmas, 2020, is anything but wonderful. We are undergoing a degree of hardship unlike any that we have experienced in our lifetime. More Americans are dying each and every day from the coronavirus than perished in any of our wars or on 9/11. As the cumulative death toll inexorably continues to climb, the total number of Americans who will have been killed by the virus likely will exceed all of the combat deaths in all of our wars against a foreign enemy.
The death count from the pandemic only tells part of the story, however. Those who have survived a bout with the virus face an uncertain future because of the serious long-term health effects on their vital organs. The burden that has been placed upon our doctors, nurses, and other front-line workers has been enormous and continues to grow as the virus relentlessly attacks our populace and fills our hospitals to overflowing. In addition, the economic impact of the pandemic has been profound for the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs, their businesses, and their homes. Millions of Americans, including one in five children, do not have enough to eat. The lines of cars at food banks stretch for miles. For our nation’s young people, the virus has disrupted their lives to such an extent that economists say the effects upon their education and future job prospects will linger for years to come. The pandemic has eviscerated the usual holiday celebrations that bring together family, friends, and colleagues, adding to the mental health and anxiety issues, especially for older Americans, that are a by-product of the constant stress in our lives. But amidst all of the chaos and danger that society is facing, this holiday season has provided us with an opportunity to discover a new-found appreciation for the things that really matter in our lives.
With the usual holiday frenzy of parties, gift-shopping, vacations, and other self-indulgent pursuits no longer viable, we have a unique opportunity to reflect on what is really important: The health and safety of ourselves and our loved ones, as well as the urgent need to assist those who find themselves in dire straits this holiday season.
We hope that all of our readers will heed the warnings of our public health officials and that those with the means to do so will help the vast numbers of our less-fortunate fellow Americans. If we do these things, we will come to a true understanding of what the Christmas season really is all about.