Months of social distancing haven’t been good for many north country residents.

Spending numerous hours by themselves or with small groups of intimates makes some people quite anxious. They can’t visit with extended family members or close friends like they used to before the novel coronavirus pandemic. They don’t interact with co-workers as much, and lockdown restrictions have limited their out-of-house activities.

In the early period of this health care crisis, we all hoped we would be through the worst of it by now. We looked forward to this holiday season lifting our spirits by resuming traditional get-togethers. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Day are occasions of great joy — and if there was ever a year that we needed a huge pick-me-up, it’s 2020.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t panned out as we had wanted. Cases of infection and the number of deaths due to COVID-19 are rising dramatically across the country.

This means that we’ve needed to increase our efforts to follow safety protocols and avoid social gatherings as much as possible. The warm hugs and fellowship of loved ones we were anticipating during the holidays must be further postponed.

We must remain vigilant about adhering to measures designed to keep us healthy. But we should continue to find ways to fill our hearts with holiday joy.

We may not be able to engage with others in person as we have in years past, but we can still take part in activities that convey the true meaning of this season. Some groups have developed unique ways to allow us to do just this.

Seneca Falls has for years hosted the annual It’s a Wonderful Life Festival. This community in the Finger Lakes region is believed to have been the inspiration for Frank Capra’s beloved movie released in the mid-1940s.

While this year they couldn’t host the numerous people who come to Seneca Falls from across the country for the event, festival organizers held it virtually this past weekend. Online sessions with surviving cast members and local dignitaries allowed participants to share their love of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and how the film benefited them.

The book that “It’s a Wonderful Life” was based on is titled “The Greatest Gift,” published in 1943 by Philip Van Doren Stern. The Butler Did It Players, a theatrical group offering interactive events in Northern New York, will perform a radio program of the book’s story on Tunes 92.5. The show will be broadcast over the Watertown-based radio station at 6 p.m. Dec. 23, 5 p.m. Dec. 24 and noon Christmas Day.

The Sally Ploof Hunter Memorial Library in Black River held drive-through visits with Santa on Sunday; parents could bring their children to speak with Big Red from the safety of their vehicles. The former Convergys building in Watertown allowed public walk-throughs for the annual North Country Festival of Trees from Nov. 27 through Dec. 5; the event was hosted by the Watertown Family YMCA and Samaritan Medical Center.

Rabbi Alec Friedmann of the Lake Placid Synagogue has held a virtual menorah lighting at 7:30 p.m. every night during Hanukkah, which began this year on Thursday and will last until Friday. People who wish to participate should send an email to Susan Semegram at sue@lakeplacidsynagogue.org for more information.

The Adirondack Community Chorus is presenting its annual Christmas concert online. This year’s program, “A Child is Born,” was filmed at Niccolls Memorial Presbyterian Church in Old Forge. Visit http://wdt.me/qRkBfp to view the performance; it will be available through Jan. 1.

We commend everyone who found ways to spread holiday cheer through safe means. Keep watch for new opportunities to benefit from this season while preserving your well-being.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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