Complicated Covid Holidays
As we get deeper and deeper into the holiday season, cases of Covid-19 are rising again throughout much of the United States. At this time of the year, party and fashion advice is usually a hot topic. But for Christmas, Hanukah, and New Year’s this year, the only truly responsible advice is to plan for holidays on your own or just with the members of your own household.
For people like me a with disability, chronic illnesses, a weakened immune system, or many other risk factors, we are already at an increased risk from Covid-19. Holiday get togethers have very dangerous potential.
Since the pandemic crashed into the United States back in March, reality has felt like some kind of alternative reality. I know that we’re tired of it. Even though I’m stuck at home, my life is also greatly impacted. The people who used to visit me no longer can. All my efforts for the last year for the nonprofit I run were quite literally cancelled, and instead of raising awareness and helping people, we lost money. My kids have each been impacted in a variety of negative ways, and their sadness is awful.
In my house we celebrate Christmas. Of course, the reason for the holiday exists just as much as it always does, yet making it festive and fun has been tough when everybody seems to feel like the Grinch.
I cringe when I see people on social media gathering, unmasked, in very large groups. I’m sure you’ve also seen videos of people arguing angrily in stores and banks that they have a constitutional right to not wear a mask. I by no means am a constitutional scholar, but I feel like in state with certainty that there is nothing in your inalienable rights about wearing a mask in a public place during a pandemic.
When this all started, I think most of us believe that by the time the 2020 holidays came around, the pandemic would be mostly under control – if not completely over. Well, we all know that’s not the situation at all. Nationwide, new Covid-19 case numbers have been steadily on the rise again. I certainly don’t presume to know all the reasons why, but I am pretty confident that at least part of it is because people in general are just tired of taking precautions seriously. Combine that weariness with the percentages of people who think it’s all some type of hoax, or not that big a deal, and I suppose this situation we are in is not that shocking.
The degree of susceptibility to Covid-19 isn’t the same for everybody, but there is definitely some risk for everybody. Plus, when you put yourself at risk, you are likewise putting at risk everybody with whom you come in contact. Isn
As you make decisions during this holiday season, try to:
- Maintain honest perspective
- Think about the consequences to your family and friends of getting Covid-19, especially those who are elderly or somehow disabled.
- Think about your neighborhood and schools, which will take part in the consequences suffer if your holiday get-together in general contributes to local outbreaks of coronavirus.
- Think about whether spending one year of your holidays on your own always just your own household members is really so bad. I have spent holidays in the hospital, watching the world pass by from the back of an ambulance, in physical rehab, and visiting my husband gravesite. There are much worse things then spending the holiday at home.
- Remember that plenty of people rarely or never have a cinematically perfect, wildly enthusiastic holiday celebration for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with a pandemic. It’s fine if that’s what you’re used to, and it’s equally fine if your normal has nothing to do with anything like that. Either way, you’re definitely survive if this year is celebrated differently.
Finally, don’t be afraid to confront the political and ideological dimensions of all this. The last thing anyone should feel obligated to do is accommodate any relative or friend who refuses to take precautions or change their plans because they believe Covid-19 is a hoax, or not that big of a deal. We are all used to tolerating family and friends who disagree with our politics or values during the holidays. We gripe about it. We joke about it, And we put up with it. It’s part of the deal of being in an extended family.
But this is different. If people in your close circle of family and friends try to guilt you into participating in “normal” holiday activities, and take it as some kind of political insult or betrayal if you don’t, that’s on them. Just this once, don’t hesitate to do what you feel is best for yourself and your community. You can’t control what other people decide, but you don’t have to participate with them.
- Have courage in your convictions
* You don’t have to make excuses for being careful, cautious and conservative in your approach to the 2020 holidays. Peer pressure is a real thing, no matter how old you are. You should have confidence to do what is best for your needs and the needs of the people you care about, no matter what anybody else says or does.
* If you decide to get together with other people but want to be sure the guidelines are followed, don’t feel bad asking or making it clear that it matters to you. I’m sure you’ve heard this plenty of times already but it still bears repeating – The guidelines are to:
* Wear masks
* Stay 6 feet apart
* Gather in groups of no more than 10 people
* If you have a fever or symptoms of any illness, stay home.
* If you’ve been traveling out of state, or out of the country, you should be self-quarantining for 14 days before gathering with other people.
- Adapt and be creative to connect
I used to be a parent who worried extensively about technology isolating my children too much, and about electronics dominating their world. Wow, how things have changed!
From March until September, technology provided the only way for kids of any age to interact with their peers. In September, my kids’ high school gave them the option of continuing distance learning or physically attending in-person. Given the way Covid-19 cases have been continuing to rise again, I am definitely not confident that school will remain open for the rest of the school year. Only time will tell.
We are all fortunate that it’s never been easier to connect socially without physically being together than it is today. Zoom, Google Meet, FaceTime, Skype and other video conferencing tools are front and center. The devices needed to use these things are often as simple as getting an app on your phone.
If some people you’d want to include aren’t set up for video chat yet, think it through. Any extra smartphones, tablets, or laptops can be loaned to loved ones who don’t have them. You can set them up ahead of time and drop them off, or mail them with clearly written instructions. As of this writing, you still have time if you want to send a device from Amazon as a holiday gift – right now they have several options of video devices like the Echo Show for less than $50.
I realize that coordinating all this may seem like a lot of work. But if you think about how much time, money and effort you typically spend every year on in-person holiday events, conducting things virtually is probably a lot less expensive and time consuming.
More ways to connect
Just because video conferencing is seemingly everywhere now, that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to connect with people this holiday season.
- Send cards, either ‘real’ ones or or e-cards to family and friends.
- Mail or email a brief newsletter type bulletin updating people about how you and yours are weathering the pandemic and anything else you’d like to include.
- Order gifts online for wrapped delivery.
- Consider sending somebody a multi-month subscription for something you think they’d like. These are typically available in increments of 3, 6, 9 or 12 months. I have sent people subscriptions for a vegetable of the month club, peanut butter and jelly of the month, cookie of the month, whisky of the month and others. I have also sent a bouquet of the month and a quarterly plant subscription. There are a huge variety of options out there.
- Send somebody a book, audio book, or Kindle book that you think they’d enjoy.
Deal with it.
I know it’s a hassle to have everything so uncertain, out of our control, not as expected, frustrating and even disappointing. Whenever I write, I’m always honest with you and I’m going to be honest here and tell you sometimes in life you just have to deal with it. Pretty much everybody already knows that but I think it’s easy to forget it sometimes. Sometimes there’s no way to just ‘make it better’ and have a problem go away. The pandemic situation is what it is, and you have to go with the flow and make the best of it.
A criminal stole my husband’s life, made me a widow, left my children without their Dad before any of them was even a teenager. Multiple sclerosis has stolen so much from me that I don’t even want to list it all. All of these losses are permanent, irrevocable and devastating. Compared to that, Covid-19 adjustments are really no big deal. In the moment they are upsetting, and I don’t mean to belittle that because of course it matters. But they are temporary changes, not permanent ones.
We are hearing about several vaccines that sound promising. Covid-19 will not last forever. But it is still an ugly reality. It is still sickening people and killing them. This holiday season, show goodwill towards mankind by doing your part to keep yourself and others safe.