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A Time to be Jolly

By Dr Marjorie O'Neill, Member for Coogee on January 6, 2021 in Other

Hats off to these people. Photo: Dan Andrews

This past year has not been an easy one for any of us. At the best, it has been a year working from home and enjoying the freedom, but always with the subliminal fear of some impending doom, perhaps in the form of illness or unemployment or social isolation. At its worst, the year has been a time of illness, deaths, unemployment, business failures and a serious reduction in important university research funding. In the Eastern Suburbs, we have experienced it all.
The fact is that COVID-19 has dominated 2020 for most of us, but its impact has been very uneven – some have thrived and others have suffered greatly. Even usual events such as births and deaths, graduations and retirements have been significantly impacted. A huge number of planned marriages among my close family and friends have been postponed. My brother Christopher and his fiancée Leah, both residents of Coogee, were forced to postpone their planned wedding in England, as were many of my friends. My niece Laura, a year six graduate in Waverley, missed the special events with family and friends all together.
But now is the time to be jolly, and it is obvious that people all over our local area have embraced this call. Houses were lit up and Christmas trees purchased earlier this year than ever before. The borders between states opened, schools and businesses closed for holidays, the shops were besieged and accommodation up and down the coast was fully booked well in advance of peak season. We celebrated our relative success as an island in combating the pandemic.
This is the time to be jolly and reflect on the year that has been and look forward to the year ahead. Christmas, Hanukkah and the New Year are important times in our lives which provide an opportunity for us to contemplate what has been and what we hope for the future. This is the ideal time for us to consider what we value and what we wish to change.
We should be jolly proud of the way we dealt with COVID-19, and of our brave, talented frontline workers. We should be proud of our children, who adapted to online learning, and our elderly residents, who had to deal with isolation.
We also need to be jolly aware of the pain experienced by members of our community who are experiencing loss of employment, failure of businesses, domestic violence and economic hardship. My heart goes out to those who have suffered the loss of a loved one without the ability to celebrate their lives, and the young who were denied the opportunity to mark their achievements in the traditional ways.
As a New Year’s resolution, we might all consider the need to be more ethical and caring. We have seen in recent months the blurring of moral standards of behaviour at the highest levels in our state. Private lives are one thing, secret lives another. Pork barrelling is neither equitable nor ethical. Yet in our own area we have witnessed amazing generosity and caring.
This summer, more than ever, we all need to help those in need. This is the time to be jolly and ethical. Let’s do what we can to make this the best silly season ever.