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“Two years into the pandemic, the perfect Christmas gift for the beleaguered Generation Z seems out of reach again, as the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus threatens the stability achieved thus far.”

Barbara Kollmeyer wrote last week in her insightful article in MarketWatch:

‘Right through my heart’: This video capturing Gen Z’s lost COVID youth has been viewed 14 million times

Kollmeyer writes that “the gifts we cannot give those born between 1997 and 2012 — now often referred to as the ‘locked down generation’ — is a normal life driven home in a holiday video from German discount retailer Penny that’s been viewed more than 14 million times since its Nov. 11 launch.”

“The three-and-a half minute clip, entitled “The Wish,” opens with a sleepless teenager and his mother sitting at the dinner table late in the evening. He asks her, “So what do you actually want for Christmas?” Her response, that she wants to give him the time and freedom he has lost to the pandemic, is at the heart of the video that has been praised for addressing Gen. Z’s pandemic losses.”

I wish you wouldn’t hang out at home all the time, I wish you would sneak out at night, that we wouldn’t know where you were,” the teen’s mother tells him, as fictional scenes of life without COVID — parties, love, concerts, travel — play out. “I wish you’d secretly throw a party, and that you’d finally tell that girl you love her…

“Judging by the more than 65,000 comments on YouTube, Penny seems to have hit the emotional nail on the head. The responses, often raw and heartbreaking, offer a fresh glimpse at families and individuals mourning a generation that has lost experiences, opportunities and mental health to the pandemic…

While some personal freedoms may have returned thanks to vaccines as the world embarks on one of the biggest living science experiments in history, evidence of damage to the young has piled up…

‘The pandemic era’s unfathomable number of deaths, pervasive sense of fear, economic instability, and forced physical distancing from loved ones, friends, and communities have exacerbated the unprecedented stresses that young people already faced,’ said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murphy, in an early December advisory that stressed how young people urgently needed society’s help to cope.”

What most of us take for granted who are older than Generation Z is the sense of community, friendship, contact… touch. And yet we can respond to the urgent need of our young people, our neighbours, our lonely friends.

Out of Touch

As I quoted Professor Manos Tsakiris in the above noted post,

None of our senses has suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic as much as touch.

Many of us literally lost touch with our friends and loved ones, and stopped touching strangers,” Tsakiris stated, even calling our experience during the pandemic as “an unplanned social experiment on skin hunger and touch aversion.

No doubt the tragedies are adding up. It’s not just the innumerable cases, hospitalizations, and deaths; it’s the loss of something we’ve been losing for some time now: the loss of transcendence, of connection, of love, of ______ – you fill in the blank!

You might not want to admit the loss, but that chronic sense of grief you’ve been feeling is a clue to your relational poverty.

My Wish for you this Christmas:

To be in touch

To get in touch

To stay in touch

With the One who made you for Himself

And who made you for family, friends, and community.

So… What do You Actually want for Christmas?

Whatever it is, may it be meaningful and merry.