I have searched my brain for a long time – and yes, there is enough left there for the search to be long – looking for a way to get over my frustration now turning to anger over holiday travel. I have relatives and friends who are traveling and all have the same argument. They know how to travel safely while the rest of the country is apparently filled with the idiots Dr. Fauci was actually addressing who don’t. In other words, the travel advisory, like so much else in this pandemic, is meant for everyone else but me.
This is one of the most disheartening aspects of this pandemic, aside from the fact that the United States of America, once a leader in the world, is now carrying the worse number of cases per capita in the world. Everywhere we look there are hospital workers dying from trying to save us. Everywhere we look there are families unable to mourn the death of a loved one together. Everywhere we look, there are sick people separated from the comfort of family. Elderly people shut themselves away for fear of going to the grocery store and in doing so, contracting a deadly disease. Young families huddle in an attempt to stay safe. Schools are closed. Morgues are overflowing. The numbers continue to get worse.
But somehow, people think they are smarter than the leading contagious disease specialists. They are the ones who can stay safe against all odds. They have some sort of degree or diploma that has nothing to do with the disease we are fighting and yet they claim that they know better. So they don’t need to wear a mask, avoid large gatherings or not travel at a time when we are being begged not to.
All indications are that this pandemic is going to get much worse before it gets much better. The wave of infections will rise as travelers from Thanksgiving infect others who then travel at Christmas and infect even more people. If all these people are so smart about this disease and what they do or don’t have to do to avoid spreading it, then why are we seeing these spikes?
When this pandemic began, most of us didn’t know people sick with Covid. Minorities were being slammed much worse than the majority population. And while this is still true, it is also true that there are now few of us who do not know someone who has suffered from Covid or a family dealing with the death of a loved one from Covid. The disease has jumped the barrier into middle class America at a time when middle class America was still mostly denying its potency.
As we enter what is supposed to be a joyous season, maybe it’s time to redefine what joyous actually means this year. I think I will feel this is a joyous season if everyone at the store is wearing masks – up over their noses! I will feel this is a joyous season if people actually do what Dr. Fauci suggests and curtail their travel plans. I’ll feel this is a joyous season when our epidemiologists tell us the curve is heading down and there won’t be any more spikes because people are actually paying attention.
I realize that most of those things are as realistic as me losing 50 lbs. and wearing a bikini to the beach next summer – or actually even getting me to go to the beach. But Christmas is about dreams and miracles. It’s about believing that a fat man on a sled can bring toys to children all over the world in one night. It’s about believing things can change, people can be kinder and nicer and not just at the holidays. But this year, above all else, it is about believing that we are all in this together. We are one. Wearing that mask isn’t about your rights. Wearing that mask means you are a contributing member of a community that needs your contribution to survive safely.
So Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Happy Hanukah. Happy Kwanza. Happy whatever floats your boat. Just stay home, wear a mask when out, and give your community a true happy holiday.