Hallelujah! A vaccine!
“Hold on thar Baba Looey!”
In one of my favourite holiday classics, the 1951 A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is visited by three spirits: Christmas Past, Present, and Yet To Come. Though tempting to think we’ve been gifted a “Christmas Present”, I’m afraid it’s more of a “Yet To Come”.
Yes, there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, but we still have to get there, masks and all. Which brings me to what I call “tunnel vision”.
A restorative Christmas Eve viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life remains one of my fondest seasonal rituals. It was once a family tradition. But after some 30 years, only my daughter Elizabeth shares my dogged devotion to George Bailey (or, at least, she puts on a brave face). Sadly, it will be a virtual affair: our TV’s tuned to Bedford Falls and iPhones sufficiently charged for 130 parallel minutes of FaceTime. Tunnel vision. No, not because of the pandemic. More because Miss Betty lives in Winnipeg and I am in Vancouver. Still, like so many COVID imposed compromises, it’s better than not at all.
For those of you just in from another planet, the movie’s plotline is fairly simple: overwhelmed by family and community obligations, frustrated by a job and a life he never wanted to live, George despairs. With his youth, dreams and opportunities slipping away, he wishes he had never been born.
“No securities, no stocks, no bonds. Nothin’ but a miserable little $500 equity in a life insurance policy. You’re worth more dead than alive!”
Then, presto! George’s wish is granted. And the balance of the movie follows him through an alternate universe where he never existed, guided by his guardian angel, Clarence. Bedford Falls has morphed into a much darker, miserable, and hopeless Pottersville—untouched by George’s previous existence.
“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives…”
Clarence and the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come both underline a simple truth: our actions have a much greater reach and potential for good than we tend to appreciate. And in our present COVID Pottersville, that message resonates with me more than ever. Misguided anti-vaxxers and belligerent anti-mask science-deniers may continue to sacrifice the rest of us on the altar of individual freedom. We can only hope that their inner Clarence will yet lead them to a Scrooge/Bailey epiphany.
“I want to live again. I want to live again. Please God, let me live again.”
It is with that hope that I look forward to our approaching collective reclamation, and a return to that wonderful life we all once knew.