The United States has faced challenging Christmases before the COVID-19 pandemic, but "we came back better than ever," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says in a Christmas Day opinion piece.
"Someday we will look back on Christmas 2020 and realize that life got better, and our dreams got bigger, as the virus was gradually defeated," Gingrich wrote for Fox News, where he is a contributor.
But still, "when we look back years from now, we will all realize how much our lives have been defined in 2020, and probably the first half of 2021, by the pandemic. The process of recovery will take years — and in some ways, some of us may never recover," said Gingrich. "Businesses have failed, loved ones have been lost, and the psychological damage (especially for the young) may take years to heal. Some may never get beyond this year’s isolation, fear, and deprivation."
Gingrich also shared some details about what life is like now in Italy. His wife, Callista, is an ambassador to the Vatican.
"The Italian government has announced strict rules in effect now through Jan. 6," he said. "Everything is closed except pharmacies, grocery stores, and gas stations. In recognition of the religious culture that pervades Italy (some 900 churches in Rome, for example) people are able to go to church but are encouraged to go to the church nearest them. Churches are following restrictions on social spacing and capacity per service."
He noted that the lockdown is "paralleled in virtually every Western country" and the closest analogy is "Christmas in wartime."
"If you accept that COVID-19 is a mortal enemy — and our entire society is being mobilized to fight it and minimize the number of deaths — then the current mess begins to make some sense," said Gingrich.
That led him to think about different challenging Christmases, including at its beginning, "the most challenging and decisive Christmas" in the nation's history, including during the numerous times of war, including the Revolutionary War, the nation's Civil War, and World Wars I and II.
"Maybe the Christmas most like 2020 is the 1918 celebration during the Spanish flu," said Gingrich. "The Spanish flu was much deadlier than COVID-19, and the science of that era simply did not have the knowledge or tools to develop an effective response ... Christmas 1918 was a deadlier time than today, but people were determined to celebrate — even in isolation."
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