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A poignant and different festive season

Time to reflect: the festive holidays are a time of celebration and an opportunity to look back on the year. The celebrations this year could not be more poignant and more different than any in our lifetimes, writes Moneywise’s Martha Harris Myron (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Readers: The Bermuda Islander Financial Planning Primer Steps 1-9 Employee Benefits and Independent Contractors will be published on December 28 at https://www.royalgazette.com/bermuda-islander/

Christmas and Boxing Day celebrations this year could not be more poignant and more different than any in our lifetimes. Not possibly since the Second World War, when rationing was in place, hundreds of Bermudian men and women soldier volunteers were in foreign lands fighting and dying for peace in our time, have Bermuda islanders been so challenged in everyday life.

Many of our people are struggling just to get by, be it financially, physically, mentally, or spiritually.

But collaborative, compassionate spirit abounds in our fair isle. Individuals, businesses and organisations have made Herculean efforts to help those in need maintain subsistence levels and pride in being.

Bermuda’s Premier and finance minister have met serious economic challenges with compassion, dignity, and efficiency to support all unemployed along with continued positive efforts to enhance Bermuda’s qualities of life and vibrant business environment. Give them thanks, too. The overwhelming effort is showing in the exhaustion on their faces and more grey hair.

Regrettably, remoteness still abounds with social distancing and sheltering at home.

Normal interchange and physical contact is so limited, a tough situation for all us humans who love to hug, kiss, and surround ourselves with loving care. Individuals with families, and moms, particularly, are in a tough place given chaotic school scheduling, working from home, managing expectations of a different kind of holiday. Parents tend to feel guilt about not enough support to shut-in relatives, limited gifts due to severely strained budgets, and much worry about the future: jobs, recovery, return to normalcy.

The Washington Post asked readers to describe 2020. “It has been a ‘year of missing,’ as my granddaughter so aptly put it – missing friends and family and life events, missing traditions and making new memories, missing feelings of wellbeing, joy, safety. All of these are important and necessary to living a good and healthy life. When things go missing in our lives, we are adrift, having lost our North Star, our moorings, our guideposts.”

What are you hopeful for in 2021?

“I am hopeful for the return of civility and calm, for the impact that a vaccine will have, that once again we will feel joy and hope and love as everyday experiences in our lives. I am hopeful that we will remember 2020 and commit to living lives of gratitude, because of the gift of life that we have been given. I am hopeful that we will have learnt to take nothing for granted. I am hopeful that what went missing in 2020 will be restored on both a personal and on a national level.” – Linda Shelly, 79, Canyon, Texas.

We are carrying on. No matter the circumstances, we collectively still need to celebrate this holiday season, because celebration is optimistic hope that this current state of affairs will change with better days to come.

Current advice is to keep it simple:

• emphasise family traditions,

• go for fun family experiences.

• Try not to overextend credit cards.

We’ve become ingenious in developed workarounds on Zoom.

• Cocktail hour remote get-togethers

• Having Zoom ’Dinner with Dad’ weekly per Robin Trimingham, https://tinyurl.com/y6v8otvn

• Try recording life moment pictorials and family histories, not sure everyone (including yours truly) wants all those “interesting” bits on the internet into perpetuity, but a wonderful way to leave a legacy for your children and grands and lots of fun, too. My friend, the late Oda Mallory, understood the power of recording memories of so many callers to her famous radio show.

• Long distance games and puzzles

• Chess, hugely popular since 65 million+ watched The Queen’s Gambit

Movies and Series:

The Crown – needs no explanation!

The Queen’s Gambit – ditto

My Octopus Teacher. Bermuda islanders are of the sea – you will love this touching eloquent movie. Craig Foster, a Cape Town freediver describes the effect of a mentorship with an octopus that he followed every day for more than a year – that provided him a teaching lesson on the fragility of life and humanity's connection with nature. Available on Netflix.

Reading:

The works of John Le Carre, an amazing writer who left us recently. His terse, succinct language in illuminating the dark world of spies, espionage, and secret enemies of the free state after the Second World War is as fiercely relevant today – as we witness the deeply devastating cybersecurity attacks on the United States government, military, and nuclear infrastructure. Mr Le Carre knew Russians and espionage well. Plus, who could forget George Smiley commenting on a severely compromised individual who had to go – as “too many appetites!”

A Man for All Markets from Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market. A biography by the relatively unknown Edward O Thorp, the genius mathematician who calculated how to beat the dealers at Blackjack – to the point where powers tried to physically eliminate him, to Wall Street where he created the original formula for valuing options and ran a successful hedge fund for many years.

And don’t forget Walter Mosely, famous detective novelist (Devil in a Blue Dress) and 40 more novels published in 21 languages, and at 68 years young still writes every day.

For those who could not come home and everyone who is missing pieces of their families, I leave you with these recordings.

Coming Home, an evocative, remembrance musical composition for piano and orchestra written and performed by the brilliant Alexis French https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IDVrxE_9qM

“I am sailing, I am sailing, home again, across the sea,” Rod Stewart’s exquisite performance at the Royal Albert Hall, which has had 74 million views https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQzB5T_B_iI

My wishes and hope for better days to come in the New Year. Blessings to you all.

References:

  • How to handle financial stress this holiday season: Create new traditions, let go of the guilt. The Lily https://tinyurl.com/yc9hllx8
  • The Washington Post asked readers to describe 2020 in one word or phrase. This response was so touching. https://tinyurl.com/yaoxsg28

• Author Martha Harris Myron, CPA JSM, a native Bermudian, is author of The Bermuda Islander Fundamental Financial Planning Primers: Books 1-9 with all specifically focused on Bermuda financial and economic matters, international financial consultant to the Olderhood Group Ltd Bermuda, and financial columnist (since 2000) to The Royal Gazette, Bermuda. All proceeds from these articles are donated by The Royal Gazette to the Salvation Army, Bermuda.

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Published December 24, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated December 23, 2020 at 5:28 pm)

A poignant and different festive season

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