Okay, the election is over. Some of us are happy. Some of us are unhappy. Many of us think it was a mixed bag, as is the case frequently.
The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us, and the pandemic is very much with us. The COVID-19 numbers do not look good. And even though we see a vaccine (actually more than one) on the way, doses are not going to arrive in any numbers until sometime next month, or next year.
Now we all will have to decide about how to approach the holiday, even as health care officials warn about the danger of “clusters,” including family gatherings. What we are going to see is different people will handle this holiday, and the ones to follow next month, in different ways. That’s hardly surprising.
Some will make practically no adjustment to their usual celebrations. For example, I saw one report that 56% of Americans are planning on traveling for Thanksgiving. That’s likely fewer than in a typical year, but it’s still a lot of people on the road, visiting others and sometimes staying in hotels or vacation rentals.
Despite the numbers, and despite the warnings of some government officials that they may institute another lockdown, it’s pretty clear that Americans as a whole are pretty tired of lockdowns, and many just won’t go along any longer. We see evidence of this every day.
As Jim Geraghty, among others, has observed, the irrationality of the restrictions in some places hasn’t helped engender public support.
Nor have the studies that tend to show that the lockdowns themselves haven’t slowed spread. Careless behavior is quite another matter, but many associate all recommendations from public officials with lockdowns and don’t pay the attention they should.
All the same, most folks I know are making some adjustments to the pandemic in their holiday plans. Some are spreading out seating at their family events to allow separation of immediate family groups and permit social distancing. Others are reducing the number of people in attendance.
It’s pretty clear, I think, that ties of family or friendship are not respected by the virus, any more than favored activities, whether political or recreational, are respected. Despite our frustration, some level of attendance limitation at public events is needed, even if we think some governors have gone overboard.
Likewise, if you are in a cluster of people at close quarters, not wearing face coverings, and you’ve no idea where some of those with you have been, or whom they have been around, you are taking a risk no matter who they are. That someone is your best friend or a close relative is no protection if he or she is infected and breathing in your face. Yet some people seem to think there is some cosmic COVID-19 exception for family events.
On the other hand, hanging out with immediate family is perfectly acceptable. (Even if one has been careless, you’re probably already infected, and it’s too late to do anything about it. These are the people you live with, after all.)
My family is used to a large Thanksgiving dinner that includes brothers and sisters, spouses, children and cousins, aunts, uncles and in-laws. It’s always a lot of fun, but we’re not doing it this year. Everyone is afraid to do so, and with good reason. It’s simply a recognition that many of us are old, and all of us would come from places where no one else could know whom we’ve been around.
I think we’re going to set up a family Zoom meeting instead. Zoom meetings are not a good substitute for seeing one another in person, but they are better than no meeting at all. So, many of us are looking at a Thanksgiving far different from what we’re used to having. A Thanksgiving without travel, and without the company of family or friends, at least in person. Still, I think most of us will, upon reflection, find we’ve much to be thankful for.
The economy has survived the pandemic, for the most part. I really feel for some small business people, for example restaurateurs.
But most of us have kept our jobs. Even if we are not going to be part of a large family feast, we will all have enough. Even if our family will not be with us, they will be safe, somewhere.
That’s a lot. That’s enough.