PRESS EDITORIAL: We deserve a Christmas break

Students always get a Christmas break, but this year every American should get one.

Not a holiday vacation, this break should be a mental intermission in the stress that seems ever present in the third decade of the 21st century.

This is meant to be a hopeful message, so we will not detail the painful sources of that stress, except to say that much of it derives from a pandemic that by this Christmas was supposed to be history but in fact is a worsening reality.

There are no rules for Christmas, so we can make of it what we choose. Fortunately, those stokers of conflict, the pundits who with their shrill nonsense marked past holiday seasons by broadcasting fear and loathing of an invented “war on Christmas,” are now apparently too busy railing against vaccination as a threat to democracy to carry on about the evil of wishing someone “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.”

For Christians, of course, Christmas is a day of celebration both reverent and joyous to commemorate the birth of the man for whom their religion and Christmas are named. Yet Christmas exists as a day for believers in all faiths, as well as nonbelievers, to be observed as a secular holiday.

Santa Claus may be the central character of that holiday, and lavish gifting and feasting its trademark, but the values it represents—goodwill, generosity, compassion and peace—are much the same as those of the religious event. If there is excess in the shopping rituals of the holiday, it can be forgiven, for its purpose is to provide material symbols of friendship and love to be exchanged in gatherings of family and friends. A wider generosity is evident too, as donations to charities surge at Christmastime and Salvation Army kettles are filled at shopping sites

For a fleeting day at least, Christmas is a counterforce to the anger that in these fraught times seems to influence so much of human behavior. It’s the break we need, our Christmas break.

There is, however, an asterisk to be appended to that fond wish. For some of us, that break will be out of reach. Many of the medical workers who serve in hospitals that are crowded, or in some cases overwhelmed, with Covid patients will get no relief this Christmas from the emotional onslaught of the suffering, death and heartbreak they must witness as they provide their noble service to mankind.

In lieu of a break, they deserve a gift—the gift of a society in which all but an insensitive few come to recognize that the relentless pandemic imposes a responsibility beyond personal concerns to act for the benefit of the community by doing all we can to limit the spread of the virus.

Let’s give health care workers the gift they deserve, even if it arrives too late for Christmas.

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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