Today is a light-gray November 17th, and my little world is a stew of political nightmares. Biden won the election in the US handily*, but 44.5 won’t concede and millions of people here think the election was stolen. Millions of people think this virus is a hoax, too, and demand their “right” to endanger millions of others. In my city, easily a third of the people walking around my neighborhood are doing so maskless, and another significant chunk wear a mask around their chin but ignore “keep 6 feet distance” guidelines. Because freedom, I guess.
It’s frustrating. I have been in this small apartment in the middle of a city for 250 days, and have only been past the front stoop thirteen times in those 250 days, those 35 weeks, those 8 months. Five of those times I stayed in the car. In the meantime, through my apartment or car windows I watch unmasked people wander outside blithely. The few times I’ve been out to walk the dog I’ve had to stand in the street waiting for unmasked people to pass, wobbling on my cane, forced to pay attention to them and the cars and the dog and my feet all at the same time so I don’t fall over into traffic.
And people elsewhere are yelling about how horrible it is that state governments are headed for the oh-so-frequently-predicted-earlier-in-the-year second lockdown. Because it’s “cancelling Thanksgiving” or “cancelling Christmas.”**
I know it’s hard for some people to be away from their loved ones. Back in July my own mother asked me to start thinking about “ways that Thanksgiving could work – don’t say no, just think about how it could work.” I didn’t have the energy to burst her balloon then, but I knew there would be no way I could attend a group gathering inside. Since then she’s listened to others in the family, but I was bracing myself for a hard conversation.
Sometimes I’m baffled at the resistance from people who know the virus is dangerous. We knew there wouldn’t be a vaccine ready until 2021. We were told by experts that the process doesn’t work like the movies. We heard all of this way back in April.
Because of all that information, I knew that my holiday plans this year would have to be treated like they were last year, when I couldn’t climb stairs and thus couldn’t be at my family’s house or Jon’s: with thought about how I’d demonstrate love to my family from a distance. I spent last Christmas at home, alone, texting or Facetiming or calling people as they celebrated. I asked Jon to go to his family instead of staying with me, because I get him every day and they do not. I was happy with our little tree at home, texting everyone, laughing at photos of my nephews opening their presents and my nieces smiling.
It was fine. I was fine. Sure, part of me being fine is that I’m a deeply introverted person, but part was because I was prepared for it.
I was prepared for this one, too.
I feel so very sorry for people who are having a deeply difficult time with the prospect of yet more alone time. Truly, I do. But if you think staying home means a holiday is canceled? You’re ignoring what the basic social premise of a holiday is about, and I don’t mean the religious aspects.
Holidays are about togetherness, and togetherness is more than just bodies. One’s love for another isn’t contained just in flesh. I promise.
It’ll hurt. It’ll ache. But the holiday can still exist. It’s up to us to make it.
*As of today Biden has well over 5 million more in popular vote, 306 projected Electoral College votes
**You can tell a lot about who “they” are by these two comments. Pisses me off that they never include Hanukkah. Plus, there are some prominent Sikh and Baha’i celebrations that can’t happen in the usual way.