Pandemic Holidays: Give Up the Old, Reminisce, and Rejoice!

Everything is different this year for the pandemic holidays. With no company to be had, thanks to the virus, suddenly there is time and opportunity! Holiday partying has given way to quiet celebrations. Giving has become less about treating ourselves with the new and more about giving up the old to help those in need.

Image of a deer in the snow

In the part of India where I grew up, a day in the middle of January is celebrated as the harvest festival. It is preceded by by house cleaning in December. A saying in the local language of letting go of the old is taken both literally and figuratively. That is the spirit that is guiding us this year.

Privileged and materialistic, we have accumulated much we will never use or need. Decluttering and letting go during these holidays is part selfish: When we rid of the old, we make room for the new. Part sentimental: We get to reminisce about what we’re giving away. And part joyful: The joy of giving. Just an example or two here to get your giving juices going.

My closet cleaning this afternoon yielded 30 T-shirts, half of them rarely worn. One that I am letting go is a T-shirt with the inscription Canaan Valley. The valley is in West Virginia. Yes, West Virginia is heaven. I reminisced about the time we were at the valley. It was December. We were snowed in. The deer were everywhere. A couple were peeking at us through the windows of the cabin. That winter wonderland is among the beautiful memories we got to recall as a reward for giving up that T-shirt.

My wife let go of our artificial Christmas tree. She had much enjoyment writing notes on assembling it and leaving instructions on how to make sure all its lights are connected properly — tasks that are complicated for people like me. We have had many great memories of gifts under that tree. But this year that tree is a gift for someone else to enjoy and cherish for years to come.

This is the third in the series this December as you consider making a difference in America or in India, by giving money for a cause of your choice or just giving up the old! I conclude with a pointer to the UNCF, the charity to which I’ve contributed the longest and one that helps make Black lives better.

May your holidays be merry as you make the lives better for those around us in this pandemic!

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Vijay Violet

I am an American. I care about the planet, its people and animals. I care about the oppressed and marginalized. And I care about the poor, both working and not.