If this Christmas has a Grinch, it’s a fuzzy infective agent known as the novel coronavirus.
It’s out to ruin what we love about the season—the family gatherings, the church services, the shared meals, the caroling, the office parties, the gift exchanges.
But like the townsfolk in the beloved Dr. Seuss book, people here aren’t letting COVID-19 steal Christmas. On the contrary, generosity and the holiday spirit abound.
Bags of Hope, the biggest holiday season food drive in the area, is forging ahead undeterred. Organizers won’t be giving bags of groceries this year. Instead, families in need will get $100 gift cards. The fear was that companies that in past years gave in-kind donations to help fill bags with $40,000 worth of groceries wouldn’t be able to give a like amount of cash for the purchase of gift cards. Maybe $25,000 was a more realistic target, organizers thought. They were wrong. Companies such as Seneca, Festival Foods, Dollar General and Kwik Trip came through to help raise $40,000 cash. Take that, COVID-19.
The Beloit Daily News Books for Kids drive collected 2,000 children’s books plus hundreds of dollars in cash donations. Despite obstacles thrown up by the Grinchy virus, book collection sites in the Beloit area filled. The Salvation Army will distribute the books to families throughout the stateline area. Score one for holiday spirit.
How about those home decorations? Is it just us, or are more people going all out this year draping lights from every limb and eve? Judy Olson, for example, decided her home at the corner of East Milwaukee Street and North Pontiac Drive in Janesville should pay homage to two Christmas movie classics, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and “A Christmas Story.” She covered a playhouse with 3,650 lights. When The Gazette asked readers to suggest nicely decorated homes people might like to visit, people responded with dozens of locations. You can find them at GazetteXtra.com/decorations. Pow! Right in the kisser, COVID-19.
And let’s not forget the reason for the season. Churches typically are overflowing on Christmas Eve, but COVID-19 insists on making that unsafe. Undeterred, local houses of worship are adjusting. They’re adding services and having people make reservations so attendees don’t exceed 25% of church capacity. First Lutheran Church in Janesville has offered other churches its radio-broadcast equipment and parking lot for drive-in services. We think COVID-19’s heart might have grown a few sizes right there.
As COVID-19 surveys the chaos it has wrought, hoping it has quashed the joy and generosity of the season, it will be disappointed.
The difficulty and loss of the past several months have made people a little more thankful, a little kinder and a little more generous. Just what COVID-19 doesn’t want.