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A Difficult (But Not Difficult) Thanksgiving Decision

When my family moved to Annapolis in July, my Mom optimistically bought plane tickets to visit us for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Flight prices just seemed too cheap to pass up at the time. Well, the time has come, and despite the non-refundable terms of these tickets, we decided her coming up to visit was just not worth the risk because of COVID-19.

My mom has taken numerous precautions. She often works from home, her interactions with other people are limited when she is at her office because she’s safely insulated within the perimeter of a plexiglass enclosed workspace. She recently took a COVID test, which was negative, just for the peace of mind of knowing prior to her visit.

What changed our mind wasn’t about her or anything she’s done. What changed our mind was CDC’s guidelines advising against holiday travel, about the risk of households mixing together in case of asymptomatic cases, and the rising number of cases surging in some parts of the country. Despite any precaution she could’ve taken prior to leaving, all of her efforts to remain safe could be thwarted by an asymptotic COVID-infected person standing too close at the airport or seated within the plane.

I have pandemic fatigue. My family moved to a new state and in five months, I have made zero in-person friends. My interactions with other adults, outside of FaceTime or video Messenger calls with family and friends, have been nil on a face-to-face basis unless you count medical appointments or evaluations for Maggie, at least the few that have been in-person. Most are through Zoom or Google Meets. I would love nothing more than to make friends and meet in-person with members of our new Annapolis community. I’d like to get to know other stay-at-home-moms. It’s not easy emotionally to transition from a career to being home full time with littles. I’d like to network in-person with other writers in the area. There are plenty of online groups, but that’s not the same as having an actual in-person conversation with a group of people who share a common interest. I would love for our family to attend church in person and for our children to play in parks that actually have other playing children. Right now, we go to parks when they are empty, which means typically slides are wet, it’s cold, or it’s too early. Andy and I have not had a date night since we were still in Texas. I would love to dress up in something pretty, hire a sitter for the night, and savor a fancy meal with a glass of wine with my husband. We live about 30-40 minutes away from Washington, D.C., about 30-40 minutes away from Baltimore, and I have friends that live in neighboring states (Virginia and Delaware) that would be an easy road trip to visit. Yet, we have refrained from exploring all that our neighboring areas have to offer outside of drive-by explorations from the car.

Maggie is high-risk. A minor cold or flu, really anything that jacks her immune system and leads to a fever, can easily set off cluster seizures that could require the intervention of an emergency room. I’ve spent too much time with her in emergency medical settings for me to want to risk infection over an outing or a simple visit, or because we’re bored of being in the house. Frankly, I would be considered high-risk, too, because I’m asthmatic. As Andy will remind me from time to time, when we first started dating, I had an asthma attack and could barely breathe to the point where I was turning blue. I stubbornly refused to seek any medical attention until he tossed me in a car and drove me to an emergency room. The E.R. Doctor thanked him for overriding my stubborn refusal.

I want nothing more than this pandemic lifestyle to be over. It’s not. Andy and I both have loved ones who have tested positive and have become horrendously ill. I’ve seen posts from previously healthy former students of mine who caught COVID and months later, still can’t smell or taste anything. I have friends who work in medical settings, who experience the reality of COVID every workday, and I read their posts about how emotionally destructive it is to try to medically treat people in denial of what they have. I usually avoid controversial statements in my posts, but I’m tired and I miss my mom.

I tend to have a libertarian perspective on personal actions. I can’t control what anyone else does any more than anyone can control my actions. If someone chooses to do something harmful to themselves, but it does not immediately impact me, that’s their choice. I say this as a person who has done plenty of harmful things to myself over the years. I’ll use cigarette smoking as an example. Today, I strive to live a healthy lifestyle with daily exercise, whole foods, and other healthy lifestyle choices, but that was not always the case. In my teens (yes, my teens), and most of my twenties, I was an on-again/off-again smoker. In my thirties, I smoked less frequently. When Andy and I started dating, he was a smoker. Yes, we smoked cigarettes together. What made us quit was when we decided we wanted a future together and we planned to have children. No one could’ve made that choice for us. We made that decision and neither of us has smoked a cigarette since 2016.

I view prophylactic measures like wearing masks, social-distancing, and frequent hand washing differently. Still using smoking as a comparison, provided I wasn’t smoking around any non-smokers, my choice would not harm anyone else. Choosing not to wear a mask, or going out when you’re sick, or refusing to maintain a six-foot distance from people outside of your household doesn’t just impact you. It impacts everyone you come in contact with. I think it’s selfishly inconsiderate of people to continue to refuse to wear a mask for the common good of all society. What you’re saying when you refuse to wear a mask is no one else matters except you. You’re saying your choice is more important than the lives around you. Sound extreme? It shouldn’t at this point. In the United States, there have been 12,028,081 cases as of this morning. There have been 255,076 deaths. The numbers are rising, the holidays are coming, and the weather is cooling.

I’m tired. I want this to be over just as much as the next person. I miss my mom and I’m eager to make new friends. How long this lasts will be heavily impacted by individual decisions. Even if you believe those conspiracy theories that say COVID is a hoax, prove me wrong by wearing the mask. Or do it to show empathy and consideration for others. Or do it because it’s the right thing to do.

I’m sure this post will likely upset some people. That’s okay. I’m upset, too. I’m tired, so very tired, and ready to go out and celebrate in-person with the world, but I’d rather wait until it’s safe to do so.


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