Typically this time of year brings people together — literally and figuratively.

This year the literal togetherness is in short supply. And while I know the cancellation and avoidance of large public gatherings (and even medium-size private gatherings) remains controversial, it’s really an appropriate step in helping each other stay safe and healthy as we all await the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine.

I’m thrilled that a vaccine may be available relatively soon and I fully intend to get the vaccine once I have the opportunity to.

While I understand that some people are skeptical because of the fast-tracking of the vaccine development, I’m confident it will be safe and effective once it makes its way through the remaining channels of the approval process with the Food and Drug Administration.

I also know some people are skeptical, or even scared, of vaccines generally, and (for example) don’t take the annual flu shot. But my weighing of the pluses and minuses of getting a flu (or COVID, or whatever else is available and recommended) vaccine leaves me convinced it’s the best thing for me to do.

Jane and I have gotten our annual flu shot for years, and after years of begging and pleading we finally persuaded Nathan to get his this year.

But again, most of us will not be in close proximity nearly as much of the time, or with nearly as many people, this Christmas season as we typically would be. That’s a genuine loss, and we might as well acknowledge that it will feel like a loss and in fact is one.

I have noticed on the holiday movies that one of the recurring images is the “gathering in the town square,” which seems to be one of the main things that is largely absent this year.

All indications, however, are that we will be back with our in-person festivities next year, and in all likelihood they will seem even more joyous because we didn’t have them this season.

In the meantime many of us are looking for ways to be together in the more figurative sense during this time when we are staying physically more distant.

Finding those ways can be challenging, especially for those with limited access to the Internet or limited experience using online platforms.

The online sessions are growing on me, though. Nathan this week had his first-ever virtual doctor visit, and it saved us several hours and a trip to Greenville.

Let’s have the best Christmas season we can and look forward to a sunny and brilliant 2021.

Reggie Ponder is a staff writer for The Daily Advance.