I’m cheerful and I feel Christmas in my heart. I spent two days early this month putting up our artificial tree with all the ornaments and lights that were in storage since January. Halloween is not likely to happen; neither is the feast of St. Jude. All Souls' Day at Tokcha’ has been canceled and a less-than-exciting election of local leaders will happen despite the question of who will come out and vote. The last quarter of the year might appear dismal and gloomy but I have hope that things will get better.

The topic of discussion these days is the pandemic. Almost as subtopics, too, are unemployment, business closures, schools and distance learning, limited religious services, lack of entertainment or sports, and the daily surge of positive cases as well as the daily death announcements. Nothing is left to the imagination anymore.

Usually, at this time of the year, my children will have already secured costumes either purchased or sewn for the grandsons. I’m glad I’m past all that as I did the same thing when my children were just eager youngsters looking forward to the exciting evening of trick-or-treating. My task today with the younger grandsons was to accompany them on the village streets, going from house to house ensuring safety. I’d carry a powerful flashlight to light our way where streetlights were out. By the latter part of the evening, I’d have in my arms an exhausted and sound-asleep toddler with one hand clutching the flashlight, an umbrella in case of a sudden downpour and a bag of treats.

Then there is Thanksgiving. I’m sure many are discussing how Thanksgiving will be celebrated. I’m not sure how we will do it, or the best way to go about it. We might opt for virtual sharing, whatever that is, or eating in shifts in the dining room at our house. Then, there’s the menu that was always a family affair when it comes to planning. Will we have a huge turkey or not? Will we have stateside fare or should we do local dishes? There’s the option of ordering items from one of the hotels and bakeries, but, that will be left up to whomever wants to do the honor of driving and picking up the delectable items as these are not delivered on demand. Imagination needs to come into play and I am open to suggestions.

By the middle of November, the island should have a clear knowledge of who won in the local election. The most anticipated one, however, is that of who will be the next president of the United States. That is open for speculation. I will not bother with it as I will just concentrate on what concerns me most on my island. I thank God that we are not beset with this decision as opposed to those living in any of the 50 states.

Then, there’s Christmas. Unlike years past, Black Friday and shopping meant going broke early. Now that is curtailed as social distancing is very much in place but so is being broke. I can see that many homes will not have presents underneath a tree, much less having a tree set up. But, the spirit of Christmas must always be in our hearts. Things happen for a reason. I truly believe in that. We must not despair as this will come to pass.

When it comes to a gift, create it, make it, cook it, build it, and do it. The fact that it came from the hands of a person who made it and that it was created from the heart makes the gift a meaningful one. It could be something to wear, something to eat, something to look at, something to use, or something to appreciate such as housecleaning, yardwork, laundry and even taking over a chore for just a day. They would be appreciated.

Yes, I do feel Christmas in my heart.

Peter R. Onedera is a playwright, author, poet, a master storyteller and a CHamoru language educator.


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