Put a Smile on Your Face This Christmas Morning

This will be a very different Christmas. For some in our area, the best gift they can give loved ones is to tell them to stay away. Big holiday gatherings may be invitations for a visit from COVID-19.

In other ways, the virus’ timing is especially hurtful.

One is that children won’t be sitting on Santa Claus’ knee, timidly telling the old gentleman what they want for Christmas and, perhaps, reaching out to confirm he’s the real deal by pulling on his whiskers. Face masks, plastic face guards and even Plexiglas barriers will separate the little ones from St. Nicholas.

Another change stabs at my heart. It is that the coronavirus has canceled some wonderful Christmas initiatives, such as “Shop With a Cop.” At least one local law enforcement agency that has undertaken the project for several years announced it will not do so this year. Too much risk from COVID-19.

Every year, my friend the Rev. Darrell Cummings and his flock at Bethlehem Temple in Wheeling hold a big drive to buy toys for children from lower-income families. They take pride in letting the children pick out their own toys from a large room full of them.

That may not be possible this year. Social distancing requirements linked to the epidemic mean the church is too small to invite children in. Unless a larger venue can be found, the kids will have to wait outside.

Other changes forced upon us by COVID-19 are even worse. Many moms and dads who, because they worked, could play Santa Claus in past years will find that more difficult — if not impossible — this year. Thousands of local residents remain either unemployed or barely scraping by because of the epidemic.

To the thousands of children normally in need of people like us to play Santa Claus, add thousands more this year.

We’re talking about material things. But isn’t celebrating Jesus’ birthday the most important thing about Christmas? “Suffer the little children … to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of God,” Jesus said.

Of such is the kingdom of God …

Every year, people throughout the Ohio Valley dig into our pockets and give generously to ensure every child has a merry Christmas. The cruel irony of this year is that many are less able to give at the same time many more of our neighbors need help.

And, to safeguard the health of both the children and their families, a few groups that normally help kids have made the wrenching decision to take this Christmas off.

Friends, we can’t let this lousy, stinking little virus hurt the children any more than they have suffered already because of the epidemic.

Ways will be found to get toys to them and Christmas dinners to their families — providing individuals and organizations doing the work receive enough in donations.

Dig deeper this year. If you normally put $10 in a collection jar, make it $20. If you have a tradition of writing a check for $50, make it $75.

If one of the joys of Christmas morning for you is reflecting that because of you and your family, a little boy or girl somewhere still believes in Santa Claus — make it two.

For many years, I’ve written that the most wonderful Christmas present we can give ourselves is the smile of a child. Don’t let the virus take that away from you.

Make a couple of children smile on Christmas morning — and you will, too.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.


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