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Re-discovering what’s important

Molly Brabham  |  19 August 2020

COVID-19 might have changed the way we can celebrate special events, but the impact hasn’t been completely bad.

Every year it’s the same, yet it always comes as a surprise.

It’s February and you stroll into your local supermarket and they’re there. Everywhere. Around every corner, down every aisle, there are Easter eggs on display. For most people, it’s not Lent that signifies the approach of Easter, but the sight of eggs in stores – often before Lent even begins.

I know that I have had this exact experience. And I have seen it for most annual holidays, especially Easter and Christmas. We’ve gotten to the point that society is more focused on the ‘bells and whistles’ of these holidays, rather than remembering and celebrating their true meaning.

But what if these holidays were stripped back? What if we no longer had the bells and whistles? Would this give them more meaning?

This year, with the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen this actually take place. So far, we’ve experienced several community celebrations without the usual ‘spectacle’ around them. Two prime examples are Easter and ANZAC Day.

An unhappy Easter In my experience Easter was absolute chaos! COVID-19 was gaining momentum here in Australia. The list of restrictions was beginning to look as long as the Road User’s Manual I was using to study for my driver’s licence test. 

WHERE WAS EASTER BUNNY?

Children didn’t know if the Easter bunny was stuck in quarantine. And families – including my family – were grieving the loss of their annual camping trip.

During all this panic it didn’t seem like anyone had really stopped to think about the true meaning of Easter, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This was until the Easter Sunday Mass was televised and society remembered that Easter was a holiday with Christian significance.

What I will remember my 2020 COVID-19 Easter Sunday is camping in my backyard. I must say it was not a pleasant experience. The ground was hard. It was two degrees. And by morning I was frozen solid, tired and disappointed.

Looking back on this experience now, I wish I had seen and recognised what Easter is really about so that I could create happier memories even with COVID-19 restrictions. But it was early days.

FINDING WAYS TO CELEBRATE

COVID-19 progressed, restrictions became more strict, and ANZAC Day was soon upon us. Perhaps it was because we’d had more time to prepare, but this time Australians found more ways to commemorate this important event.

For the dawn service, families stood at the base of their driveways with anything from candles to torches to commemorate the ANZACs. Some households even played the last post for the whole neighbourhood to hear and observe a moment of silence for our fallen soldiers.

Australians were coming together as a community, and using their initiative to find new ways of commemorating the people who used these same skills on the battlefield.

This is the way that ANZAC Day should be. We all put in effort to create our own ANZAC services rather than just attending one that has been organised for us. These things made this year’s ANZAC Day so much more memorable and meaningful.

LOOKING AHEAD

This made me wonder what Christmas will be like if COVID-19 restrictions are still in place. How will having a COVID-Christmas change how we celebrate it and remember it?

I wonder what Christmas time would be like without the stress of Christmas shopping, without as many store-bought presents under the tree, or without the Christmas family holiday? And without Santa being able to eat his cookies because of COVID-19 fears. Would we need to put in more effort to create memories than we would before?

Personally, I would like to experience a Christmas like this. I would like to show my family that I am thinking of them at Christmas without picking the easy option of picking up a cheap last-minute gift from Target. The gifts that I would receive would also be more meaningful because there would have been more effort put into them.

Most importantly, the true meaning of Christmas would be clearer. The hope of Jesus’ birth and life could really be celebrated. The love and happiness of Christmas should bring would be felt (and needed) more strongly and widely, instead of the anxiety and stress a modern Christmas induces. Maybe online streaming will bring more people to Mass?

Although COVID-19 has devastated the planet, I think that we can learn from it. Having our lives so restricted has been challenging, but we have discovered how to celebrate important events in our lives in creative, loving and compassionate ways. This is how society is meant to be celebrating!

> Molly Brabham is one of the guest editors of our Spring edition.

 

 

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