Omicron Credit: Newsday/Matt Davies

If we have learned anything since the start of the COVD-19 pandemic that has robbed us of one holiday season and is threatening another, it is that modern life — for all its luxuries and advances and comforts — still is precarious.

That was true last Christmas, when so many celebrations were disrupted or made more difficult by testing, masking, and travel restrictions.

And it is true again this year, as a new variant spreads. Vaccination and hard-won experience at fighting this scourge mean less of a full emergency, and many are able to gather more safely. But we are not yet done worrying about COVID, especially for the most vulnerable among us.

And that precariousness doesn’t even include the disrupted supply chain, anxiety-inducing economy, and simmering new global conflicts that prove we shouldn’t take for granted even the ordering of a package.

Life has always been a thin sheet of ice like this, even if we don’t always realize. Those who have suffered health crises know just how everything can change in an instant. Lost jobs, lost loved ones, unexpected challenges — all combine to disrupt the comfortable notion that what is here today will be there tomorrow.

That is why, around this time of year, it’s so important to embrace and bolster the good that exists around us. The fragility of our reality is what makes time with family and friends so precious. It is why many of us turn to religions, spirituality, and traditions, or even just the neighbor-to-neighbor boons of community. The fact that we cannot take all we have for granted is why we are moved to help a stranger, to support the needy, to buy a meal or chip in for a roof over someone’s head when they are at a low. We know that so many of our peers would do the same for us, and someday we may need it. That is true here and all around the world.

We may not have everything we want this holiday season but it’s likely we have so much to celebrate and honor, even if those things are small joys and victories. For those who are working or serving on these happy, restful days, we thank you — for we know that even time to retool and relax and celebrate is not a given. For those who can gather and eat and give and open presents and exchange embraces, we must. There’s so much around us that is peaceful and enriching and durable, if we just know where to look.

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