Memorial luminarias provide a somber light at Hospice of Homer’s “Light Up a Life” and 35th Anniversary Gathering last Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, at WKFL Park in Homer, Alaska. The event honored staff and volunteers who have helped out at the organization over the decades. As a fundraiser for hospice, people purchased luminarias to honor deceased friends and family. Luminarias are a Hispanic tradition where candles are placed in a paper bag weighed down with sand. Also known as farolitios, Catholics place luminarias to guide the spirit of the Christ child to one’s home. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Memorial luminarias provide a somber light at Hospice of Homer’s “Light Up a Life” and 35th Anniversary Gathering last Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, at WKFL Park in Homer, Alaska. The event honored staff and volunteers who have helped out at the organization over the decades. As a fundraiser for hospice, people purchased luminarias to honor deceased friends and family. Luminarias are a Hispanic tradition where candles are placed in a paper bag weighed down with sand. Also known as farolitios, Catholics place luminarias to guide the spirit of the Christ child to one’s home. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Best Bets

It’s going to be tough this Christmas. Many of us will be sharing the day with just our intimate family circle. To be COVID-19 safe, we might not travel or gather together in small tribes to share the joy of the season. There won’t be caroling or community concerts. Heck, the Nutcracker Ballet got canceled, as did the big Nutcracker Faire.

The winter storm that rolled in this week seems fitting for such a gloomy season. Even the brightness of snow got dashed — at least in the lower elevations — and lots of people found themselves fixing broken greenhouses or chopping up fallen trees. The Christmas Eve skate on Beluga Lake got postponed, too. Clouds all week kept us from seeing that cool Jupiter-Saturn conjunction.

In other words, it’s one more spot on the leopard for the pandemic. We’ve gone through nine months of general anxiety and despair. Some of us have suffered illness and loss from the pandemic while the rest of us have endured the daily stress of life. Is my mask on straight? Did I wash my hands? Am I doing everything I can to be safe? Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Feh.

Well, cheer up, citizens. Though we might be in tough times, we have gone through bad times before. The Betster remembers one rough Christmas as a child where we had to pool our spare change to buy a Christmas tree and Mom had to buy gifts at the Green Stamp Store. Uh, that’s a thing grocery stores used to do — give away stamps with purchases. Collect them and stick them in book and you could redeem them for cool things like a chemistry set.

Every year families go through similar hard times. That’s why we have Share the Spirit and the gift trees, to help some child experience a bit of joy. The only difference is, this year everyone is going through the tough times. Maybe’s it’s a way for us to relearn empathy and sharing.

But just as those Three Wise Men saw the light on the horizon, there’s light ahead. Already our health care workers and most vulnerable elders are getting vaccines. Arm by poked arm we’re working our way to ending this pandemic. No matter your faith or degree thereof, this is a time when the light returns. Embrace it, and find joy in the simple things, perhaps with these Best Bets:

BEST REASON FOR THE SEASON BET: Christmas Eve services are a family tradition for many Christians. The evening is filled with candlelight, carols and rejoicing. But, alas, in these pandemic times, it’s hard and not always safe to gather together. At the Homer United Methodist Church, you can share the joy in a video broadcast starting at noon today. For the link to the Christmas Eve service, as well as previous December events, visit https://www.homerumcalaska.org.

BEST MAKE TRACKS BET: Maybe this slush will stop and we’ll have good snow. Last weekend the Betster went out skiing on the Sunset Loop and oh my was it ever a bunch of fun. There’s nothing more serene than getting into a good Nordic ski groove. Check out the fine trails maintained by the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club on Diamond Ridge, Baycrest, Lookout Mountain and McNeil Canyon. Get the latest trail conditions and other information at http://kachemaknordicskiclub.org. While you’re there, if you’re not a member, throw them some money because tracks don’t fall from heaven.

BEST A LITTLE WALK BET: Here’s Plan B. If this ice and rain keeps up, skiing will be shot, and it’s going to be hard to get out and get some fresh air. Fear not — we always have the beach. Watch the tides and look for a good low tide that gives you some flat sand to stroll upon. Even in these dark days, there’s joy to be found on the beach. Embrace that salt air. Watch the eagles, crows and gulls fly. Do some beach combing. Scan for otters and seals. Watch the sun slide over the Kenai Mountains across Kachemak Bay. Walk your dog. Walk with your sweetheart. You’ll always find good footing by this beautiful bay.

BETS LIGHTS! ACTION! ROLL ‘EM! BET: It’s finally up, the Homer Nutcracker’s video, “The Petite Nutcracker,” their version of the Homer tradition that couldn’t happen live this year. Sit down, fire up the flat screen TV, log into YouTube, and check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yw6MPFGQF_Q. The Kenai Peninsula Orchestra and the dancers have put together a production that dazzles and entertains.

Memorial luminarias provide a somber light at Hospice of Homer’s “Light Up a Life” and 35th Anniversary Gathering last Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, at WKFL Park in Homer, Alaska. The event honored staff and volunteers who have helped out at the organization over the decades. As a fundraiser for hospice, people purchased luminarias to honor deceased friends and family. Luminarias are a Hispanic tradition where candles are placed in a paper bag weighed down with sand. Also known as farolitios, Catholics place luminarias to guide the spirit of the Christ child to one’s home. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Memorial luminarias provide a somber light at Hospice of Homer’s “Light Up a Life” and 35th Anniversary Gathering last Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, at WKFL Park in Homer, Alaska. The event honored staff and volunteers who have helped out at the organization over the decades. As a fundraiser for hospice, people purchased luminarias to honor deceased friends and family. Luminarias are a Hispanic tradition where candles are placed in a paper bag weighed down with sand. Also known as farolitios, Catholics place luminarias to guide the spirit of the Christ child to one’s home. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Memorial luminarias provide a somber light at Hospice of Homer’s “Light Up a Life” and 35th Anniversary Gathering last Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, at WKFL Park in Homer, Alaska. The event honored staff and volunteers who have helped out at the organization over the decades. As a fundraiser for hospice, people purchased luminarias to honor deceased friends and family. Luminarias are a Hispanic tradition where candles are placed in a paper bag weighed down with sand. Also known as farolitios, Catholics place luminarias to guide the spirit of the Christ child to one’s home. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Memorial luminarias provide a somber light at Hospice of Homer’s “Light Up a Life” and 35th Anniversary Gathering last Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, at WKFL Park in Homer, Alaska. The event honored staff and volunteers who have helped out at the organization over the decades. As a fundraiser for hospice, people purchased luminarias to honor deceased friends and family. Luminarias are a Hispanic tradition where candles are placed in a paper bag weighed down with sand. Also known as farolitios, Catholics place luminarias to guide the spirit of the Christ child to one’s home. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Memorial luminarias provide a somber light at Hospice of Homer’s “Light Up a Life” and 35th Anniversary Gathering last Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, at WKFL Park in Homer, Alaska. The event honored staff and volunteers who have helped out at the organization over the decades. As a fundraiser for hospice, people purchased luminarias to honor deceased friends and family. Luminarias are a Hispanic tradition where candles are placed in a paper bag weighed down with sand. Also known as farolitios, Catholics place luminarias to guide the spirit of the Christ child to one’s home. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Memorial luminarias provide a somber light at Hospice of Homer’s “Light Up a Life” and 35th Anniversary Gathering last Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, at WKFL Park in Homer, Alaska. The event honored staff and volunteers who have helped out at the organization over the decades. As a fundraiser for hospice, people purchased luminarias to honor deceased friends and family. Luminarias are a Hispanic tradition where candles are placed in a paper bag weighed down with sand. Also known as farolitios, Catholics place luminarias to guide the spirit of the Christ child to one’s home. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

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