Across Southern Vermont, we join our neighbors around the globe in lighting candles, saying prayers, sharing special food with our families, neighbors and communities, exchanging gifts, singing carols or listening to traditional music that honors our chosen worship or nonreligious quiet reflection on the passing year.
Our thoughts will be with the people of Ukraine this holiday as they struggle to keep the lights on in their hearts and their homes.
Our prayers are with those in Pakistan, where nearly 1,800 have lost their lives to flooding; in Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, where 20 million people face potential starvation; the women of Iran who are denied education and face prison and even death for refusing to be subjugated; refugees who risk and too often lose their lives as they flee violence and oppression in hopes of finding betters lives for their families; and others across the globe who are trying to find joy in a difficult — perhaps impossible — situation this holiday season.
Closer to home, we are keeping an eye on our neighbors — especially the elderly — as this winter storm affects our region. We are volunteering at food shelves to ensure everyone has something to eat; donating coats, boots and hats to make sure everyone is warm; and donating money to angel organizations that provide necessities to those in need.
Yet, while those worries hang over our holidays, we are finding so much to celebrate and be joyful about.
We are blessed with new and wonderful friends who fled dangerous situations in Afghanistan, Iraq, African nations and unstable nations to find safety and support in Vermont. These families and the experiences they bring are a special gift to our communities.
We are thankful to come together again after two years of pandemic isolation. The risks of COVID are not gone, and we miss those lost to the pandemic. But we have vaccinated and boosted and worn masks and stayed clear of those at special risk of the virus — and continue to do so. The reward is seeing friends and families once again.
We have children who sing in choirs, play sports, embrace the stage, volunteer for good causes, join academic and artistic clubs, and excel in the things that feed their imaginations. And we appreciate our neighbors who donate their time and energy on behalf of our communities.
No one’s life is perfect. But it’s important to take a breath and reflect on how fortunate we are for the simple, good life most of us enjoy in Southern Vermont.
Some of us will celebrate traditionally this weekend with Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and other formal services comprising what we commonly call the “holiday season.” Others will find personal ways of seeing 2022 come to a close and preparing for the fresh start of a new year. Some will celebrate with families and friends, others alone.
Regardless of where you find yourself this holiday season, from all of us at Vermont News & Media, and our families, we wish you a happy holiday!