A Socially Distanced Christmas Secluded from extended families, but safe from the virus

Smiles+were+on+everyone%E2%80%99s+faces+as+we+shared+laughs+and+conversations+during+last+years+Christmas+party%2C+completely+unaware+of+the+wave+of+disease+to+come.+It+was+the+last+bit+of+normalcy+before+returning+to+our+homes%2C+and+remaining+secluded+there+for+almost+the+entirety+of+2020.%0APhoto+Credit%3A+Kayla+Thomas

Smiles were on everyone’s faces as we shared laughs and conversations during last year’s Christmas party, completely unaware of the wave of disease to come. It was the last bit of normalcy before returning to our homes, and remaining secluded there for almost the entirety of 2020. Photo Credit: Kayla Thomas

Kayla Thomas

Reminiscing on the laughs, the cheers, the holiday spirit – I find myself feeling the same excitement as last year. All these memories from previous Christmases came rushing back, only to remind me of how boring this Christmas will be without the parties, the family gatherings and every other social activity people do during the holidays. Although continuing social distance practices is necessary, it still – for lack of a more apt word – sucks. 

Looking back at last year, my family and I went to a Christmas party hosted by one of my mother’s coworkers. My mom is an RN, and almost the entire day shift, Intermediate Care (IMC) unit was at that party, along with their kids and husbands. With so many people crammed into one house, it got pretty crowded. No one minded it though, because everyone was together. Kids were chasing each other around the house with new toys. Teens were singing “Last Christmas” by George Michael on the karaoke machine. Adults talking, watching the kids, and eating all of the delicious food sitting at the buffet tables. It was a time of celebration. 

Of course, many other families spent the holidays in the same way. They attended parties. They hosted big dinners. They traveled to other states to see extended family. But in 2020 with COVID-19, people can’t do any of those things without it taking a toll on people’s social skills, mental health, and physical well-being, it will not be the year for major family celebrations for anyone concerned about the virus.

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Everything that happened, from a global perspective to a personal level, is deeply saddening. As much as I try to push away the thought, my parents could die from this pandemic. My dad almost did last November, and it’s terrifying to even recall the memory. He was three months into recovery from a heart attack, and all of a sudden he started getting migraines. Then other symptoms started showing up, like fatigue, coughs, and sniffles. We all had no idea what it was. I spent time nursing him while my mom was at work. It wasn’t until May when the virus finally left, and it was like a miracle. Unfortunately, there’s no immunity to COVID-19, so my parents are still at high risk. For so many other families, it could be the same situation, the same fear, and the same amount of caution.

I understand that it’s kind of a let down to not be able to see friends and outside-family, as well as not being able to go anywhere, but it’s important to remember that for many Americans, this moment is life or death. Over Thanksgiving alone, physicians predicted more than 184,000 new cases. On that day, Nevada reached a new high, with the number of new cases at 3,900 and 23 deaths. When the statistics came in, the data showed that physicians weren’t too far off. The number of new cases was 178,290. Don’t repeat those mistakes this Christmas. Every step we take, even during the holidays, brings us closer to the end of this pandemic. 

No matter how much we long for that familiar festive feeling and experience, we need to stay strong. We need to be patient. The light is coming, and while a lot of us may not see it yet, it’s coming. So, yes, the holiday season could be better, but try to make the best out of it. Look at the people in your life, the places you’ve been, and places you’re going to go. All of those things are worth being thankful for, especially because so many people have had that taken from them. Many people won’t see another Christmas. So spend this Christmas with gratitude, and stay at home.

Will you spend the holidays with extended family?