Opinion | Value grateful hearts over material goods this year

By Shitao Liu, Columnist

This pandemic has profoundly influenced our lives for nearly a year, causing us to celebrate the holiday season with an uneasy heart. Therefore, a heart full of gratitude and love is more important than the gifts we send to others this year.

Only the Black Death caused more severe aftermath than COVID-19. According to the Coronavirus Resource Center of Johns Hopkins University, the number of global COVID-19 cases has surpassed sixty-two million this week, with around one-fifth of the confirmed cases occurring in the United States; around 1.5 million lives have been taken.

Unlike the 1918 Flu Pandemic and the 2002-2004 SARS Outbreak, this pandemic also poses a grim challenge to our economy, especially to the retail, catering and tourism industries, which, although representing only a portion of our economy, feed the most people.

Even though we witnessed the fastest economic recovery in the third quarter and the highest-valued stock market in history, we still expect to see the first recession since the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007.

Under such a global environment, we find ourselves welcoming perhaps the most depressing holiday season in recent history. While the department stores and shopping centers are still offering various kinds of discount promotions to fascinate customers, we should not forget the true spirit of the season and return to it this year.

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Thanksgiving originally celebrated the great harvest of crops; Christmas celebrated the birth of Jesus. However, as time passes, these holidays are associated with secular meanings beyond the religious ones. Thanksgiving now has become a holiday celebrating family reunions, and Christmas marks the end of a year and bears our best hope for the coming future. Outside the United States, people also take Thanksgiving as an occasion to express gratitude to others.

What makes the holiday season special is not the gifts, but the sincerity of heart it causes. While many people are unable to return home due to travel restrictions and many families have lost their income due to the recession, a heart filled with love outperforms any good on the shelves of Macy’s.

We should also share our love with others. We have read many heart-touching stories about the doctors, nurses, scientists and health care workers on the frontlines fighting against the pandemic: they all deserve our deepest gratitude. A true hero always carries a heart of kindness and a simple, even sometimes naive, ideal, and they are our true heroes.

In this era of consumerism, people gradually turn the holiday season into a shopping season and forget to appreciate the heart-warming moments of our lives. This holiday season, it is time to slow down and send our loved ones the greatest gift of all: a heart of gratitude.

Shitao is a junior in Engineering.
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