I have heard 2020 described as being like a slow puncture with the air slowly going out of the tyre and I am sure many of you can relate. I nearly didn’t even bother with a blog this week, as what is there left to say as the year limps towards the finish line?
Doom and gloom has hit new levels in the UK this week with full lockdown restrictions in many places and very worryingly, a new variant of COVID, which is thought to be 70% more transmissible. And they don’t know if the new vaccine will work on it. Hell’s teeth, there goes the Merry Christmas!
Meanwhile, in Israel roll-out of the vaccine began on Saturday, not with a health worker or old pensioner, but with the countries self-appointed Most Important Person stepping forward for a photo opportunity. From today the roll-out is expected to be available to over-60s in Israel and if it weren’t for the crushingly divisive politics surrounding it, it would almost be impressive.
The real risk, which will play out during 2021, is how Israel will interact with the Palestinian Territories who are still scrambling to organise a private supply of the vaccine. In the meantime, they will be dependent on the WHO’s COVAX scheme to supply vaccinations for 20% of the population as part of a programme of support for the world’s poorest countries. One saving grace might be Israel’s high dependency on Palestinian workers otherwise there would be little stopping them from creating leper like colonies out of the un-vaccinated West Bank areas.
We had already decided that we wouldn’t be travelling this year and despite the solemn circumstances, I am determined to squeeze some festive joy out of the end of this unprecedented year. Most of the things that I will enjoy over the next week apply wherever you are in the world:
The kids don’t care
As long as Santa is coming, the kids don’t give a figgy pudding about any of the other stuff. Ok, they might miss their grandparents and their cousins a little this year but like little magpies, I am sure they will be distracted by the shiny things on Christmas Day. Thank goodness the good folks in the US sorted out Santa’s vaccination so he has no excuse for a working from home day this year!
Star of Bethlehem
In the absence of traditional Christmas entertainment (office parties and the like), the solar system is putting on a show this year with a not-seen-in-800-years spectacle. Jupiter and Saturn are nearly lining up to create a phenomenon called the Star of Bethlehem which is thought to resemble the elongated star that appeared in Bethlehem on the first Christmas. It happens tonight: 21st December so check out the night sky! My son asked Santa for a telescope for Christmas it is just a shame that it won’t be delivered by the big man in time….
Cast off the old traditions
This year is a carte blanche to do things differently. We plan to take full advantage of the still nice weather to go for a Wadi hike and then light a fire and have some sort of barbeque extravaganza as our Christmas lunch. Ideally with some friends that we would never get to see over Christmas normally. It will be unique and memorable (pending any further restrictions or god forbid, rain!). I realise this one isn’t as applicable in cold and locked down places but the principle of do what you like still applies.
Embrace the virtual
This time last year attending a Church service in a country you didn’t live in would have been considered pretty unusual behaviour. Not so during the year of the zoom however, where you are only one click away from anywhere. Why not join the Christmas services in Bethlehem, Nazareth or Jerusalem for a peek into the great houses of Christianity.
Eat & Drink & Relax
If all else fails then Christmas is a time for eating, drinking and relaxing and we will all have more time for that with journeys not taken, relatives not visited and parties not hosted. I plan to see this as a positive and to actually enjoy doing a bit less this year (box of chocolates and glass of wine in hand of course).
If there is anything that 2020 has taught us it is that anyone in good health has a lot to be thankful for so Sahtain (Arabic: double health) and I hope we can all look forward to a bit more light in our lives in 2021.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!