Ah, Thanksgiving! A holiday we celebrate by playing a game with our families that I like to call “And that’s how you’ve decided to live your life then?” Like Pictionary, you just keep at it until someone cries.
Or – hear me out – you could just stay home for the holidays, closing the curtains and doing your best impression of tranquilized zoo animal. because the CDC has actually said that you do not need to see your family this holiday season! You don’t need to host anyone. Are you hearing this? A governmental organization dedicated to making sure people don’t die is telling you to sit on your ass and have a Nic Cage marathon instead of listening to your family members recall that one time you peed your pants in the grocery store at the ripe old age of 9. THIS IS A GIFT, PEOPLE.
Call your family (if you haven’t already) and tell them you aren’t coming over. (Sorry!) You can tell your friends that – ugh – you aren’t hosting. Yeah, I know it’s last minute. And they’re going to be so disappointed. *Insert shrug.* But this is for everyone’s safety, and also, you’ve never seen National Treasure.
Some of you might still be contemplating hopping on a plane or jumping into your car and dipping your hands in a big old communal pot of stuffing. Millions of people are traveling even though the CDC has asked us not to, and I am going to lovingly scream that you not do that (through a mask, because guess what? Screaming is dangerous.) If you want, you can go over to your loved ones house and wave at them from a distance of at least six feet.
YES, I KNOW THAT SOUNDS AWFUL AND STUPID. WE’RE TRYING TO SURVIVE A PANDEMIC WITHOUT ANY FEDERAL OVERSIGHT OR SUPPORT. IT IS DESIGNED TO BE AWFUL AND STUPID.
We’ve been at this shit since early March. The last time I hugged my mother was February. I haven’t seen my nephews in a year. The little one now walks and talks. I missed all his round-faced, dimpled-elbow babyhood. Last month my husband’s grandmother died, and her final months were spent away from her family, wearing a mask, absolutely done with all of this. We had her memorial over Zoom.
But just because we’ve had all that we can take doesn’t mean this is over. El Paso Texas just ran out of morgue space. Reno, NV is planning on turning a parking garage into a Covid unit. Mississippi has essentially run out of ICU beds. We had 180,000 new cases of Covid on Friday which is basically the population of Salt Lake City, Utah, and that’s just people we know about. The chart of new infections looks like something someone in a marketing meeting would pull up because they were gunning for a raise.
A quarter of a million people are dead, and the current administration is acting like a bunch of high school seniors with two months of school left. They do not give a fuck, because pretty soon they’re going to be out of here and taking a permanent gap year in a country without extradition treaties. They are just leaving us to fend for ourselves during a pandemic. So I am asking you, please, please, please stay home and fend for yourself during this pandemic.
I know that many of you are thinking that this might be your last holiday season with your relatives. I get that. IT FUCKING SUCKS. You are talking to someone who never spent a single holiday or special occasion or birthday with her own dad, and who didn’t even get to go to his funeral. It is not great, but also I can assure you, it’s not the end of the world. I have a lot of great memories that don’t happen to fall on specific dates.
And if you insist on seeing your relatives because you’re worried this holiday season might be their last, you might actually ensure that this holiday season is their last.
You may think that traveling is simply your decision and this is about your health and your autonomy but it is not. You are a vector. You are someone who could infect dozens of people around you without even knowing it. Who could endanger cab drivers and essential workers and healthcare professionals and your entire family.
One of the things that we agreed to when we decided to live in a society is that we take care of one another. It’s like the ONLY thing that old dead philosophers agree on – if you decide to live in a community, you don’t get to kill your neighbors or your grandma, and you don’t get to break that rule because it’s the fourth Thursday in November. For some damn reason individual liberty in America has become synonymous with “I get to endanger and kill anyone I want” and we need to rethink that immediately.
I promise, when this is over, we’ll celebrate every single special day we missed, possibly simultaneously. I’m going to stand in the middle of my street pelting people with Halloween candy while screaming Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” regardless of what time of year it is. But that cannot happen now.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be angry – damn it, you should be pissed. We have been left in the goddamn lurch by the people elected to protect us. We are the only country where things are this bad, and it’s because our leadership literally doesn’t care if we live or die. That should make you incensed. We should be fighting against that every single day.
That is where our rage should lie – not at the ordinances and the rules and the scientists and doctors trying to keep us safe, but at the government who took our safety and holidays and our loved ones from us in the first place. The ones who didn’t take this issue seriously when they could have stopped it, and who have access to better health care than we will ever get.
I am not asking you to not be angry. I am just asking you to be angry at home. Sit down in the butt groove on the couch that you have so bravely been working on for the last nine months. Turn on the television. And if anyone tries to guilt you for not showing up this holiday season, remind yourself that this selfless act is the embodiment of your love for them. You, sitting alone, missing them with all your heart.