Covid Christmas dinner

The Plague-Ground – But Do You Remember the Most Famous Christmas of All?

It’s arriving in 10 days, and whatever we call the Great December holiday, it will be the one we’ll never forget as the pandemic forces us to celebrate in awkward new ways. Or all alone. Or not at all.

So if that day has come to mean less for you, if you just want it to come and go like all the other locked-down days, now’s the time to give it more meaning, not less, and to restore the purpose and magic of the season.

Here are a few ways to start:

1. A Very Different Messiah. Talk about constraints accelerating creativity. The musty old Messiah, which we dutifully attend each Christmas, has been kick-started into bold new life by Against the Grain Theatre and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. We saw their version online Sunday night, and it’s on through January 7th. It’s free too, but you’ll want to donate to help the wonderful creators and performers who made such audacious music out of Canada’s bleakish landscape.

One reason it’s called Messiah Complex is all the vocal-distancing among its four choirs, 12 soloists and six languages. Catch a glimpse here.

2. Why Christmas Can Never Be Cancelled. A reminder from The Economist that this isn’t the first time in history that officials have tried to cancel Christmas, nor will it be the last. This year, it concludes: “Each country is following its own rules, for a short period of officially sanctioned madness. The British prime minister Boris Johnson, known for his obsession with the ancient world, has granted Britons five days of freedom – the same length as Caligula’s Saturnalia. January will be a cold, harsh month. But before it, as always, there will be a moment of light in the bleak mid-winter.”

3. For new ideas on holiday rituals, turn to… Cathal Kelly. Who knew the Globe and Mail’s sports columnist could argue so passionately for going to the movies, something we’ll have to wait till next Christmas for?

4. Don’t forget to send The Two Michaels a Christmas card. Fellow Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig have been in Chinese jails for two years now, on trumped-up espionage charges. So take a moment and send them a card. They need all the warmth and light they can get.

5. Shop like your life depended on it. You can do that at The School of Life. It started as a quirky British storefront and blossomed into an online retailer of great common sense and happiness.

6. Tired of listicles like “9 ways to stay thin over Christmas”? Try this one and stuff your imagination.

7. Suspend your judgement. In this year of all years, give your prejudices a rest and practice both Que Sera and C’est la Vie. Then spend five minutes with these commercials.

Finally, if you don’t feel like dancing ……..(and this year, lots of us don’t), then watch some people who do.

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15 thoughts on “The Plague-Ground – But Do You Remember the Most Famous Christmas of All?”

  1. Thanks, Bob. The Major Lazer + Marcus Mumford collaboration made my day. Maybe even my season. So joyous and beautifully produced.

    1. And the same to you, Susan…it’s good to see we’re both still alive — and have evidence to prove it.
      All the best.

  2. Thank you Bob!!!!!
    Happy Holidays to you and Jean. Thank you so much for your Plague Ground. I have read & loved all of them. What a bright light in my inbox. Sending only bright thoughts for 2021.

    1. Thanks for your note, Dana….and what a year it’s been. I can’t wait for it to end. Jean and I are still up north
      where we fled on March 13th…..I trust you are high and dry?

  3. thank you for the music/dancing – made our day! We’ll play it again and again….. Major Lazer + Marcus Mumford collaboration – fantastic. Hope for the world.

  4. Juanita Montalvo

    Missing the Christmas carols in the park with you… and will miss the Christmas Eve mass at Roy Thomson… the Metropolitan Community Church hosting all denominations and spiritually connected non-believers. But the meaning is within, indeed. Thanks for all your posts. xo

  5. Thanks Bob for this great piece. This has lots of great ideas which I will try out and share with my friends. I especially love the dance video at the end. Just joyous!!!

    1. Thanks for connecting, Meg. I agree: the dance piece at the end makes it hard not to get up and dance yourself!
      Merry Christmas.

  6. Have so appreciated all of your thought provoking and entertaining posts Bob – thank you! But I sure miss the personal get togethers and events. Can you just imagine how much fun that is going to be down the road and around the corner?Wishing you, Jean and your whole posse the Merriest possible season and better times to come… eventually.

    1. Suzanne — Believe me, I too miss the get-togethers. All our pent-up demand may just …spill over!
      And our best to you and your family, Suzanne….we have been at our cottage since March 13th hiding
      from the plague. I trust you are safe and sound, high and dry.

      All the best,


  7. Bob. Thank you for providing addresses for the 2 Michaels. Although there is no guarantee that they will receive the letters, I think we can each take a few minutes to send them our best wishes and to let them know that they are not forgotten.

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