#COVID-19: The Grinch Who Stole Our Christmas

BY definition, a Grinch is a grumpy person who spoils the pleasure of others or a party-popper. Most of you might have watched The Grinch movie by Jim Carrey or the 2018 animated version of The Grinch, a movie about a grumpy Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch) who plots to ruin Christmas for the village of Whoville, a fictional place in the film.

By Michael Gwarisa

To make sure the whole of Whoville doesn’t celebrate Christmas and all the joy it brings, the Grinch spent the entire Christmas eve night stealing all Christmas gifts from every household in the village. The whole village woke up the following morning only to find all their gifts including Christmas decorations gone. The entire Whoville was plunged into a state of shock, the Grinch had succeeded in dampening their precious day.

Fast forward to 2020, the Grinch might have once again succeeded in its theatrics and this time, he has taken his stunts beyond Whoville and made sure the entire world pays the price. Unlike the Grinch from the movies who is a furry green character, the 2020 Grinch is an off-white sphere with yellow protein particles attached and red spikes emerging from the surface, creating the distinctive “corona” or crown.

The Coronavirus is here for a while and believe you me, the bug has already succeeded in stealing our Christmas in 2020. Having been first reported in Wuhan, a province in China in December, 2019, the coronavirus has brought so much misery and pain to the world. Coronavirus has stolen more than just Christmas; the virus has literally stolen our lives from us. It has dismantled and dismembered our Christmas traditions and our ways of celebrating and appreciating each other.

For the first time, we are going to celebrate the birth of Christ under a pandemic and like headless chicken, we are clueless as to how the coming few weeks will unfold.

The biggest question lingering in many heads is whether or not Christmas 2020 is cancelled? Under the prevailing environment, it can never be Christmas as usual and people need to adjust to the new normal or face the full wrath of the virus. Already, COVID-19 cases have gone beyond 60 Million globally while more than a million deaths have been recorded. With the Christmas holiday upon us, epidemiologists have raised concern over the possibility of the virus spreading fast during the holiday season especially during parties and merrymaking as friends and family meet inside tight quarters with friends or family that don’t live in their home.

In Zimbabwe, cases of the virus have been surging over the past weeks and with the holidays around, there is a tendency of “letting our guard down.” As Africans and as Zimbabweans we have our own way of celebrating Christmas which involves  visiting parents and relatives in the rural areas, outdoor barbeque, merry making among others. However, Christmas as we know it is gone and this year, its either we adapt or die, it’s that simple.

For many, Christmas is a time to make a killing in terms of business as families will be buying gifts for their loved ones. However, 2020 might be different. Owing to the lockdown period which saw people being locked away in their houses for months, a number of savings might have been eroded during he period as people tried to beef up supplies for the quarantine phase. Already, the spending capacity has been affected as disposable income has dwindled due to various factors such as retrenchments and salary cuts as a result of the COVID-19 induced lockdown.

Majority of Zimbabwe’s diaspora are in neighboring South Africa. However, due to COVID-19 immigration regulations which require an individual traveler to produce a COVID-19 test report which is less than 48 hours old, majority of families might not make it to Zimbabwe this time around. A COVID-19 test is mandatory and should be taken before departing the foreign country and another one before returning to the foreign country. This is a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for that matter which costs nothing below US$50 in Zimbabwe. At this rate, we are likely to celebrate our Christmas holiday with our friends in the diaspora via the Zoom platform.

As it stands Zimbabwe has been recording more cases of COVID-19 and only time will tell if the President, Emerson Mngangagwa will announce any Christmas related lockdown restrictions or rules. Even though local epidemiologists believe a lockdwon wouldn’t be necessary, some believe there should be some form of festive season specific guidelines to manage and avoid the spread of the virus during the holidays period.

So how best can we celebrate Christmas under the current health situation? There are numerous ways through which we can enjoy each other’s company and still not expose each other to the risk of getting infected with the virus. At least we should take comfort in the fact that we are in the current situation not because we erred but because the Coronavirus happened.

As painful as it may be, lets continue observing the World Health Organisation (WHO) set COVID-19 prevention guidelines such as physical distancing, masking and regular sanitising of hands just a little longer. Who knows, maybe a vaccine or cure is on the horizon.


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