Columbia River Maritime Museum

The Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria decorated for the holidays.

It’s Christmas Eve and we want to wish all our readers, advertisers and staff a “Merry Christmas.”

It is the understatement of the year to say that Christmas 2020 is unlike any other.

The global pandemic’s effects have inevitably changed our lives. Disruptions will continue well into 2021. Locally, some of our friends and neighbors have become sick; a few have died, while many more are likely to face years of poorer health due to COVID’s ravages. We are at the point where it is unlikely that anyone reading this doesn’t know of someone seriously affected by the coronavirus.

And because of this, no longer are we spending the holiday period gathering with friends, traveling to families across state or across country, or generally following traditional patterns.

We’re unable to indulge in carol singing, large church services and other events that remind people of faith of the joyous and most significant event in their cherished religion. Celebrating this season isn’t confined to Christians, of course. Holidays around the winter solstice are marked by adherents of multiple faiths and belief systems. All will be constrained and hobbled by the need to stay safe and protect vulnerable loved ones.

The practicalities of giving have somewhat shifted. There is more electronic commerce, with access to large retailers only a few clicks away for those who have money.

However, we each should feel a strong personal responsibility for contributing to keeping local businesses alive. They are in a life-or-death struggle to keep entrepreneurial dreams afloat. There is no better time to show our affection by buying gift certificates from home-owned enterprises. Look for unique Columbia-Pacific products and services to brighten the lives of those we long to see and hold. Order pickup meals from local restaurants and always tip as generously as you can.

Despite everything, we have much to celebrate.

Our families are still there — we are just not getting together as much in person. That’s all.

The telephone and videoconferencing tools like Zoom are marvelous inventions. Use them right now to contact your parents, your children, your grandparents, your brothers and sisters and cousins. The resonance of a familiar human voice offers a cherished experience unlike any other. A young child connecting with a faraway grandparent with giggly, loving chatter may bring more comfort than any parcel arriving on the doorstep.

Of course, these visits lack the comfort of hugs, shared meals and in-person gift exchanges. But modern communication methods offer an opportunity to link up with loved ones who you would see in person in any other year.

The global pandemic continues to bite as we go into Christmas and see the new year approaching. Numbers of people contracting the virus and suffering are up around the nation and world. Let’s avoid spreader events this week and next.

For the sake of the health of our neighbors, we need to celebrate an in-person Christmas with meals and gift-giving with our immediate households only. We must accept that the sacrifice of not traveling, not getting together with faraway loved ones, is a way to prevent the further spread of this invisible enemy.

As we mark the arrival of Dec. 25 and all that it implies, we can cherish the gift of knowing that our loved ones are as safe as possible.

So call or link up online to find a way to tell them that you love them.

And show them, by snuggling in the coziness of your house or apartment and celebrating the season at home.

Focus on what is good. Be of good cheer. We will get through this — together, not necessarily in person, but with a common resolve to do the right thing and avoid actions that prolong the crisis. This dreary and upsetting time is passing. Vaccinations, already well underway, promise a path to the holiday season in 2021 when we can joyously make up for all we missed out on this year.