Finding solutions for staying connected during the holidays

By Marcel Gemme

As the holidays approach, many of us already know what we’re doing for Thanksgiving. Or better yet, what we’re not doing. Since COVID-19 hit, life has been different. One of the most noticeable ways is in the lack of closeness with others. Often, these are loved ones like our parents and grandparents.

When this whole thing began, the sacrifices were sudden. But so was the panic, so it felt warranted. Sadly, despite hospitalizations and deaths rising, that sense of urgency is gone for many. Record-breaking day after record-breaking day, with totals coming in of more than 100,000 new daily cases, has made one thing clear: People are not following the protocols they should be to stop the spread.

One reason for this is that our nation has become divided by politics and this has somehow involved things like health care, science and facts in a polarized debate. Many Americans currently refute the severity and even existence of COVID-19. Thus, disregarding safety protocols and disease prevention practices has become a way of rebelling against “the other side.”

Adding to the mess, authorities like the CDC have issued muddled guidelines and statements about staying safe. Recently, they’ve posted a guide to navigating COVID during the holidays on their website. It begins by explaining that the safest options for celebrating with your family are limiting gatherings to only your current household members or having a virtual get-together. They then explain all the different factors to consider should you decide to risk traveling or hosting your non-household family for a more massive celebration.

This is contradictory and a stark difference from how many other countries have handled this pandemic. Perhaps a reason for this is the disproportionately
large number of seniors in America. Seniors are not only extremely susceptible to the virus, but they are also more prone to a new phenomenon known as “pandemic fatigue.” Essentially, the person becomes sick of the precautions and misses their family and everyday life so much that they begin to take unnecessary risks. Everyone can relate to this to some degree.

So, what are we to do? Nobody wants to throw in the towel and cancel Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. None of us thought back in March that we’d be dealing with this decision right now. Thankfully, there are solutions.

Since the pandemic began, technology has adapted. Video calling has come a long way and there are now ways to have multiple people on the same video call simultaneously. This can feel like everyone is together and is often easier to use than many people think. Younger people in the family can quickly help set this up over the phone or those living in the same household can help someone who’s never dealt with the technology.

This pandemic has been exhausting. But let’s not give up. Instead, let’s focus on solutions and what we can do instead of what we can’t.

Power to Speak is The Argonaut’s guest opinion column for community members to voice their views on local matters and does not represent an editorial position or endorsement by The Argonaut. The opinions, experiences, research and data analysis expressed in this article are the author’s own. Have a unique point of view on a neighborhood matter or a national issue with a local twist? Email kkirk@timespublications.com.

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