Cover Photo: Pavel Danilyuk / Pexels

How close are we to having a more normal Christmas this time around?

Christmas—the time of the year where we don’t mind bumping into strangers and sweeping the store with sore feet to cross off the last item on our shopping list.

See also: The Parol: All About This Uniquely Filipino Christmas Décor

Because nothing else feels better than preparing a celebration for both those who have made our year better and those we seldom see every day.

Part of the tradition is enjoying a holiday feast with these familiar faces. And when we began to feel the weight of the pandemic last year, most of us couldn’t imagine what Christmas would look like without the warm presence of the people we love gathered around the table. On top of that, more than one million Filipino families bore the brunt of Typhoon Ulysses in November 2020.

It was a "blue" Christmas for one of the happiest countries in the world. Yet, we've set up interactive Zoom parties and settled for drive-by visits.

New active cases of COVID-19 have also declined to over or around 6,000 daily after the terrifying surge in September. The country's Inter-agency Task Force has also recently released guidelines allowing vaccinated individuals to participate in outdoor activities. However promising this might seem, the hope for the return of full-blown Christmas gatherings remain up in the air.

But this is progress nonetheless. As of now, over 24 million Filipinos have already received their second jab according to the Department of Health (DOH). More than half of the country's tourism workers have also been vaccinated and the Department of Tourism has started promoting tourist destinations and museums or parks for us to visit.

See also: COVID-19 Vaccination Perks: House And Lot, Sacks Of Rice, Free Meals; And More

This is already an improvement when compared to the country’s vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr's goal at the onset of the country's vaccination. Galvez is aiming to "ramp up our vaccination with both the public and private sectors heavily involved". The second phase of minors' vaccination had also begun, and the DOH has entertained the possibility of allowing minors to go out.

Looks like we might have a brighter holiday after all. For now, we remain optimistic as the downward trend of active cases continues and more Filipinos continue to visit vaccination sites.

We can almost feel the holiday cheer and hear children's laughter on the streets. Here's hoping. 

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