As the year is drawing to an end and the holiday season has begun, it got me thinking about how different socializing is with my loved ones.
The holiday season doesn't hold much significance for me although my family does have its own traditions. For Thanksgiving, my parents and I like to go to my favorite Chinese restaurant for the treat of Dim Sum. Since purchasing my home a few years ago the tradition has been for my dad's family to join us for Christmas at my house during the first week or two of December for a meal cooked by my parents. Then my parents and I like to have a meal just the three of us on actual Christmas day. My parents and I decided to downsize our holiday meals a few years ago and it has greatly reduced holiday stress all around for each of us.
This year is different though thanks to Covid. My parents and I have been having a meal together once every week or two. We all wear masks and socially distance from one another. We don't even hug each other anymore. We were planning to have Indian Tacos together with my boyfriend, Mike, for Thanksgiving. That was until Mike was exposed to someone with Covid so both of our families decided to cancel any get-togethers. We both remain asymptomatic and are awaiting testing. To truly know if you're positive for Covid, it sounds as though daily testing is what's actually needed. According to Harvard Health Publishing, if you test too early or too late, there aren't enough viral particles to detect the virus. This has made it more difficult to determine when Mike should be tested as we are uncertain when exactly he was exposed or when that person started experiencing symptoms. We also didn't want to risk a false negative and then expose anyone in our families to us if one of us is actually positive for Covid.
My dad is the youngest of 8, the oldest being in her late 80s. As he and his siblings are older, we decided not to host a Christmas meal for the family. My parents and I still plan to have a meal together, however, that is subject to change as life is unpredictable during a pandemic.
Being apart from family for the holidays is a small price to pay to help maintain my health and theirs. I greatly miss being able to hug my parents but my priority is keeping them safe. This is particularly true as I am still working in the medical field and am exposed to many more individuals than my parents.
Technology has been a blessing during this year so that I may text, call, and video chat my parents and my nieces. It isn't the same as an in-person visit or hugging a loved one. It remains an option to be grateful for though. One of my patients told me that every Saturday he and his wife video chat with all of their children over dinner. Each week someone chooses a recipe and every household makes the same meal that they then enjoy while video chatting together.
It has been difficult to not be able to see my friends or my nieces as often as I usually would have this year. I did take the risk of spending a day with my best friend and her family during the summer, Mike and I went on a vacation to Colorado, and I had an outing with each of my nieces this Fall. I feel as though it has been particularly hard on my nieces not being able to have our usual outings as I want to keep them and myself healthy. I'm fortunate to have the companionship of Mike to help me cope with the stress and isolation of this year. Since we are our own grouping, I am able to receive all the hugs from him that I'm missing from my parents. Not everyone who is isolating has that blessing. I am grateful that Mike and I started dating prior to the pandemic starting as I would not have felt comfortable being involved in the dating world during these times.
Our families have been kind to offer to drop off a part of their holiday meals so that we may still partake as we are able without potentially placing them or others at risk. This holiday season looks quite different than years past but hopefully, we'll be able to look forward to many more holiday seasons together if we remain safe and cognizant during this time.
As the progress of a Covid vaccine advances, I'm hopeful that by this time next year the world will be very different from what it is like today. I wish you all the best health - physically and mentally during these times. Reach out to loved ones as safely as possible - not only for your well-being but theirs as well. We all need one another, perhaps more now than ever.