I am wishing happy holidays to you and yours. This holiday season may feel a bit different from previous years. For some, due to COVID concerns, they are spending the holiday without gathering with loved ones. For others, the holiday season may be filled with a sense of loss of a loved one due to the virus. For another set, there may be a sense of excitement and wonder at the holiday season that even a global pandemic cannot take away.

We are still facing deep uncertainties in our society. So many of our fellow New Yorkers and Americans are facing evictions, job loss, and awaiting much needed relief from the government. Others are preparing for January 20th and the arrival of Joe Biden as the 46th president and a return to civility that has been missing for the past four years. The uncertain road, turbulence, and possible violence until inauguration day has many on edge and uneasy during this holiday season.

On a local level, many New Yorkers are beginning to think about the upcoming primary elections in New York City happening in June which will be upon us before we know it. Might I suggest as a holiday treat for yourself, you begin to dedicate 5-10 minutes each day to research candidates and their platforms. The mayor, public advocate, comptroller, district attorneys, borough presidents, and city council members are in charge of so many facets of our daily lives and in charge of billions of dollars. We can view the research of each of these offices not as a chore, but as a gift you can give yourself and your community to become better informed.

I, for one, will be researching candidates and their platforms as well as perfecting family recipes and asking my mother for a few recipes she only uses once each year. We have all processed this unique year in different ways, no one way is better than another. We have all tried to survive a global pandemic, individually and collectively. We are all doing our best, so this holiday season hopefully you will allow yourself to breathe a sigh of relief and marvel at the year you have survived. For many, upon closer reflection, you may realize you actually thrived in ways large and small.

The holidays for many have been a time to shop and add items to their lives. It is my sincere hope that this year people have decided to purge closets and donate clothes and coats to those in need. Hopefully this time will be a moment to reflect on all of the ways you have found joy without spending money. The true meaning of the holiday season is upon us, we just have to open our eyes to see it.

Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC and also What’s In It For Us podcast.