Playing it safe during a pandemic has been a reality for most of 2020. As the year has progressed, the initial fear and precaution have given way to frustration at the daily impact the virus has on our lives. Unfortunately, this aspect is likely to remain until a vaccine is approved, introduced, and the world can slowly return to normal. It also means the holiday season must be altered.
If there is anything people dislike, it’s being told by the government how to live. The desire to rebel against control is as strong as it’s ever been after months of being told to engage in virtual learning, postpone vacations, reschedule weddings, limit the number of attendees at funerals, and keep from visiting loved ones in the hospital. Now, government officials are urging people to dramatically scale back Thanksgiving plans or cancel them entirely. The disappointment is palpable. Somewhere in between going about business as usual and changing things entirely is a balance that too many are unable or unwilling to find.
The United States is nearing a heartbreaking 260,000 deaths due to COVID-19. This number will only grow. With cases rising around the nation, it is imperative that people take seriously the virus and consider how decisions contribute to the spread. This must be factored into not only Thanksgiving celebrations but everyday life. It is important that vulnerable people treat themselves with care. It is just as important that those who live with one or more immunocompromised persons protect them as best they can. There are times when wearing masks and staying socially distant are appropriate measures. Just as important is being careful during the holiday season and considering the impact we can have for good or ill on those around us, family, friends, and strangers alike.
This shouldn’t mean that all gatherings have to be canceled. Instead, participants can work to keep themselves healthy before the event, stay home if sick, and not take unnecessary risks, make outlandish plans, or invite large numbers of people with no safety measures.
This isn’t the Thanksgiving anyone envisioned, but these are extraordinary times.
The elected officials and members of the media who chastise others for wanting to congregate with loved ones during a difficult year are the same ones who praised endless summer protests in major cities and recent street celebrations following President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Unsurprisingly, they use the metric of political relevance when determining which gatherings are acceptable. The national media applauded each time throngs of people pushed back against police brutality in numerous marches and demonstrations around the country this year. Making a statement was fine, even if mask guidelines and social distancing were flouted, simply because the viewer agreed with the message. But only then.
It’s also no surprise that people are furious when politicians, such as California Gov. Gavin Newsom and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, say one thing publicly and do another privately as it relates to pandemic restrictions. Apparently, the rules apply to all but them and their tightknit circles.
There must be consistency if we are to take seriously the rules introduced in communities and states. This requires that the Left and the Right do what’s best in this temporary stage despite wishes for complete normalcy. This applies to those who have been elected to lead us, too. Too many politicians want to cancel holiday celebrations outright. But there is a vast difference between a large gathering of various households in which no precautions have been taken and a small celebration of local households, all of whom have appropriately prepared. Both sides must realize that.
Mocking or making light of legitimate concerns about the virus and how it spreads is a wrong reaction to a real threat. Just as unacceptable is picking and choosing what gatherings are good or bad based on politics alone.
Kimberly Ross (@SouthernKeeks) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog and a columnist at Arc Digital.