If Christmas 2021 was different from Christmas 2020, it’s because this year we realized we weren’t all in this together. That was both the heartbreak and the place of deep anger.

Last year, with the exception of a few civil servants, people opted to give up their gatherings with family and friends knowing that the goal was to keep everyone safe. We donned our masks without question, washed our hands until they hurt and maintained our social distance. We were determined to be there for each other.

When Covid-19 hit Canada the preceding spring, people who couldn’t sew learned and made as many masks as they could and expert sewers made them by the hundreds, some even by the thousands.

Social media pages started up offering to buy groceries or run errands for those who were immune compromised or nervous about going out. We shared groceries since the supply chain broke down and hoarding made some goods inaccessible. We gathered to bang pots every night and cheer our health professionals on. Even though it hurt, we were okay spending Christmas alone because we knew we were in it for the common good. It gave meaning to our isolation.

This year it was different. We wanted to say and believe we were all in this together but we knew we weren’t.

As though a miracle come true, vaccines were made available in the space of year and though there was the occasional risk, many rushed in to get their first shots then their second, knowing it would not only protect them, but those in whom they were in contact. We were determined to nip the Covid-19 beast in the bud.

Most have continued to wear their masks and wash their hands regularly. But sadly, some refused to be vaccinated arguing against the science, proclaiming conspiracy theories and refusing to wear masks because it threatened their individual rights and freedoms. They had the nerve to threaten those working in the hospitals.

Such a selfish society we can be.

Now those same people clog up our hospitals making it almost impossible for others requiring badly needed care to get the medical attention they need. Who can blame doctors and nurses for throwing in the towel … who wouldn’t? There are millions of people in developing countries who would give their lives for just one shot … they don’t have to though – Covid-19 is taking it.

In the meantime, so many here, in a country where the vaccine is freely offered, refuse for reasons most of us cannot comprehend. We ask ourselves, why do we give them care at all — yet we have to because that is the kind of people we are.

Once again, I could not spend Christmas with my father which would have meant a lot to me. Now in his 90s, we know the chances to do that are in short supply. We could not take the chance.

Yes, he has his shots, I have mine but with Omicron on the loose, contact with someone too self-righteous to wear a mask or be vaccinated could be fatal. Contact with that person at a gas station could mean death. We couldn’t risk it. So once again, it was Merry Christmas on the phone. It sucks.

That can never replace a few minutes spent together — sometimes that silence which sometimes says far more than words.

So you see, while you are busy arguing for your rights and espousing fears over conspiracy theories, others of us had to give up Christmas with those we love and who we might not get to see again, partially because of you. This year, the selfishness in you trumped the love in me but we can hope that 2022 will be different.

As Desmond Tutu, who we lost on Dec.26, so aptly said, “Our maturity will be judged by how well we are able to agree to disagree and yet continue to love one another, to care for one another, and cherish one another and seek the greater good of the other.”

This year, with so much on our plate — COVID, climate change, racial injustice and equality — let’s show our maturity, do the right thing and act like we are in this together.

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