A Covid Christmas

Source: creativereview.com

I suspect that for many people the anticipation of Christmas conjures up a range of memories and emotions.   This certainly is true for me.

During my childhood there was always a joyful expectation of gifts to be discovered under the tree   Christmas morning.  Being the youngest of four siblings all of us packed into a tiny room with a bunk bed I would be urged from about 5am to begin the chant; “can we get up now, can we get up now?”

As poor as our family was at the time I was never disappointed either by the gifts received or by the sumptuous turkey dinner with all the trimmings later in the day.  In between these two happy events was the long walk across the town Oakville (population 4000 at that time) to attend Mass, half way through which I would begin another chant; “can we go home now, can we go home now?”

It was only years later that l learned of the anxious struggle it was for my parents to make Christmas a joyful time for their children.  My Dad being a sleeping and dining car attendant on the CN Railroad depended mostly on tips to raise the family.

Also he could be away from home for days at a time and even weeks during the winter when his route took him as far as Vancouver or Winnipeg with the possibility of winter storms blocking the tracks for hours and sometimes days.  Then there was the hour bus ride from Toronto to home which could also be delayed by winter weather; all of which created mounting anxiety for my mother.

What are your memories of Christmas and what are your expectations for this coming celebration?  Worse than the threat of winter storms is the threat of the deadly Corona virus that could put in question how and even if we might gather for feasting with family and friends.  Furthermore we might even be obliged to make an appointment to have a seat at our place of worship where we will be well separated from other families.

Perhaps more than ever we are being invited to focus on the deeper meaning of this season; the birth of our Saviour, the Prince of Peace who is always here and now in our lives and always coming anew for us.  During this pandemic how are we inviting Jesus to deepen his healing and life giving presence in our hearts, in our families and in our world?  Or in another way how is Jesus encouraging and supporting us to live this precious time with Him?


Bill Clarke, SJ, is a member of the team of spiritual directors at Loyola House of Ignatius Jesuit Centre of Guelph and continues his commitment to L'Arche.

  • Bernice Dookhan-Khan
    Posted at 06:23h, 22 December Reply

    Thanks for a beautiful reflection Fr. Bill. Blessed Christmas. Be safe and God bless.

  • Olga Protz
    Posted at 06:40h, 22 December Reply

    Thank you Bill for your story and words of encouragement and hope. Merry Christmas, and blessings at this holy time .

  • Karen Arthurs
    Posted at 09:29h, 22 December Reply

    Thanks for sharing your Canadian Christmas memories of sharing and gratitude.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 10:01h, 22 December Reply

    Thank you Bill!

  • darcy Mann
    Posted at 11:55h, 22 December Reply

    My father Jack Mann worked on the CN Trains for 35 years. ( roughly 1950 to 1985 ) He was well known by all the employee’s and knew all the Porters and staff throughout the years. I’d like to think maybe your father knew him.

  • Maria Skarzynski
    Posted at 13:26h, 22 December Reply

    How we need your words to keep our ‘ships’ steady ! I find that there is a mass panic developing among a lot of seniors and depression and great sorrow if one of us gets the Covid. So your words help a lot. Thank you !!

  • Gary Mooney
    Posted at 13:27h, 22 December Reply

    Thankyou muchly Bill Clarke

  • Sr. Ann Marie Walsh, FCJ
    Posted at 17:24h, 22 December Reply

    Thanks, Bill for your inspiring reflection! Christmas Blessings to you!

  • Dodzi Amemado
    Posted at 08:19h, 23 December Reply

    Thank you, Fr. Bill, fo reminding us that “the Prince of Peace is always here and now in our lives and always coming anew for us”. Merry Christmas to you and your community at the Loyola Retreat House!

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