It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Last night about 7:00 p.m. Peg excitedly called for me to join her outside as the dark gray sky gave way to a sliver of moon accompanied by Jupiter and Saturn nearing a point of conjunction, the same phenomenon that occurred about 2,000 years ago. It feels good to anticipate the completion of the astronomical wonder that will occur on December 21, the winter solstice. Perhaps we can consider the return of the “Christmas Star” as a harbinger of a better year to come as this painful year of 2020 begins to recede.
That is the traditional interpretation of the Christmas Story, overcoming current adversity and hoping for a brighter future. But many people are not just looking to the stars and dreaming about deliverance. There has been a world-wide effort to achieve effective treatments and prevention of COVID-19. The marvel of the creation of several efficacious vaccines in less than one year is unprecedented. It is a true Christmas type story brought about by the hard work of countless scientists, governmental leaders, workers and volunteers in several countries. When one thinks that the first reported case of polio was before the beginning of the 20th century and that it took over half of that century to develop a polio vaccine, we can appreciate what has been accomplished with the Corona Virus in less than one year.
And it is not just those people who have been directly affected by COVID-19 and those who have been directly involved in the battle to defeat it that have exhibited strength of character during 2020. Life has gone on. People have continued to do their jobs and care for others in the face of fear and restrictions. It is truly heroic that as we have endured over 300,000 deaths from COVID-19, groceries get delivered, utilities remain on, governmental services continue, trash gets picked up, etc., etc., etc. The Christmas spirit triumphs. Thank you to all who have refused to succumb to despair and who have put self-sacrifice over fear to provide for others.
Other signs of the season and the spirit of goodwill among people are the celebrations that have occurred all over America. Some of these celebrations are connected to various religious faiths. In the United States Amendment I to our Constitution protects such practices. But we also have many secular celebrations emphasizing hope, peace, reconciliation and our shared cultural histories. While I have enjoyed many such events in numerous places over the years, I was particularly struck by the Christmas Parade in Pawhuska, Osage County, Oklahoma this past week. Its theme evoked all that is good about community pride and gave evidence of confidence that 2021 will erase the angst of 2020.
The Christmas parade of December 5, 2020 was sponsored by the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce and was led by its Executive Director Joni Nash on horseback. The parade celebrated the rich history of the Osage Nation as well as the service of military veterans. The live-streamed event featured Osage Princess Fiona Armede Red Eagle and four Osage Chiefs as Parade Marshals: James Roan Gray, Scott Bighorse, John D. Red Eagle and Geoffrey Standing Bear. As each Chief was introduced various accomplishments of the Chief and the Osage Tribe were entertainingly and informatively described by volunteer announcers Debbie and Ron Reed. It was an impressive and extensive list of achievements. And it felt right to have those accomplishments included as proof that the Chiefs’ visions for the tribe and the whole Osage County community were firmly embedded in a rich history with plans for a bright future. I did note that Debbie appeared to be attempting to distance herself from Ron’s Clark Griswold type tie.
Regardless, if you would like to view the parade, type the following address in your Internet browser:
Such celebrations of the American spirit whenever and wherever they take place are welcome and interesting. But particularly this year, while the planets align as we are exiting the dark side of 2020, it helps to look back at good times in the past and to plan confidently for better times in the future.