...If Only in my Dreams
I feel I have no choice but to keep my distance this Christmas.
- Me, to my family about gathering this holiday
So said I after a long-winded explanation of how, since I have a roommate who goes in to work every day and goes skiing, I cannot possibly hope to self-quarantine/isolate in my own apartment for two weeks before Christmas. Even as I typed it out, my mind was nagging at me, the problem solver in me trying to grasp at whatever straw I could to rationalize gathering as a family this Christmas. Ultimately, I concluded, my family is in good health, and there's nothing to indicate that this would be a "last Christmas" together with any given member of the family.
Fortunately, my parents were gracious in accepting and supporting this decision. It kills me a little inside, because this would have been my last Christmas living in the area, since I'm moving to Portland shortly. A few days later, my folks cancelled their Christmas gathering altogether. It wasn't going to be huge, just my folks, my youngest brother, my other brother and his girlfriend, and me. 6 total, wearing masks. Seems like it'd be ok, until you realize my folks have regular, unavoidable contact with my grandparents. It's just not worth risking their health for a short celebration.
I was hoping that the spread of COVID would have mellowed out by now, or that we'd have a vaccine, or some fool proof way of stopping the spread. Instead, reality is the polar opposite to my dream: COVID cases are spiking, the vaccine that has been developed has only been produced in limited quantities, doled out to front line healthcare professionals and high risk patients, and finally, there are still people in the US whose brains are so smooth and small that they appear to think wearing a mask is some infringement on their rights. As if catching COVID wasn't going to be an infringement on their right to life, liberty, etc.
We're coming up on a year of living with COVID. At the time of writing, we face 1,600,000 deaths world wide, over a quarter of the death toll of the holocaust. Domestically, America faces 306,000 deaths, surpassing the death toll of Americans in WWII, passing 100 times the number of deaths from 9/11, and closing in on 10 times the number of deaths from the flu last year (2019-2020 season). We're facing the largest enemy of the people of the US that we've encountered in the existence of our country (other than ourselves in the civil war). It's true that the Spanish flu took an estimated 675,000 deaths over the course of two years, but we're closing in on half that amount in less than a year, even with technology a whole century ahead of what was used in 1918.
So I'm doing my part in staying home this Christmas. I don't like it, but I'm resolved to use FaceTime, Zoom, or whatever to connect with my family this year. We will not be close, but we will be together. If you're reading this before the Christmas season of 2020, give the gift that keeps on giving for years to come: Stay home this Christmas - help reduce the number of vectors COVID has to infect your loved ones. We're the only ones who can save ourselves, we just have to be smart enough to recognize it.