I don’t have anything particularly profound to say about Holidays in the Age of Covid except that I imagine it will be far worse this year than any former family Holiday get together you may have experienced in the past.
Think of your worst family dinner or your most awkward moment opening gifts in the past, or the most infuriatingly dysfunctional conversation with your crazy uncle you have every year, after he’s had one too many brandied egg nogs, and add a couple extra layers of anxiety-making gibberish propaganda to it and that’s what it’s going to be like for you this year, in the Age of COVID.
Ask yourself what part of your life has been normal since we’ve transitioned into this COVID obsessed world. Now ask yourself how normal you really think your family holiday dinners or vacations are going to be this year. And ask yourself if it’s worth it and if you benefit from any of it.
I’m bringing this up because a friend of mine dropped a bombshell that I hadn’t thought of at all, so I thought why not do a quick blog blip to warn others?
My friend confided in me that his family has requested he take a COVID-19 test prior to him visiting for the holidays. After recovering from my shock, I realized this brought up variables that in the end, in my opinion, would only end up hurting him. Plus it adds another layer of confusion to what is already a stressful time of year even without adding COVID-19 or the Election Crisis into the mix.
He doesn’t want to get tested but he wants to see his family. He is as intelligent as he is diplomatic so based on what I could get out of him he voiced his concerns with his family about the test, who then offered to pay for the more expensive spit test as opposed to forcing him to go through the torture of the brain puncturing nasal swab.
But what if his test came up positive? Could he explain that a positive test is actually meaningless? Would he have to quarantine and then test again and then if that test came up negative, would he be given the green light to finally go visit the family for the holiday? What if there are other people visiting and they’ve already cemented their plans while he may have to quarantine?
There’s an unfairness around this request that made me uneasy for him.
Ultimately what he decided was to get some distance from it. When it comes down to it, he says he will eventually say to his family that if they want him to come it’s going to have to be when they are not afraid. In other words he says he is happy to visit them when they feel safe to be around him, without him having to succumb to a test.
This may work but it may not.
What if they lay a guilt trip on him? “It’s just a test! Why are you being so difficult? It’s the holidays!” But, his response that he will be happy to visit once they are not seized and controlled by fear is very rational, especially since their request is so irrational.
Life in the Age of COVID, as we’ve already experienced is defined as irrational, isn’t it? The rules change everyday and we are always surprised at the next level bullshit we have to wade through. This has been a divisive-making, derision-inducing life of misery. Every person I have talked to has said the same things: they’ve lost friends and family over this thing.
To think that we can just pick up as if things are 2019, and to think we can have a nice family holiday in the Age of COVID is fantasy I suggest you snap out of quickly. It’s already November 11 after all. Thanksgiving is around the corner, then Christmas, Hanukkah etc. then New Years. The Age of COVID isn’t going away anytime soon and neither will the dysfunction and real pain that comes with it.
I cannot imagine anything more awful than having to wear a mask while heads are lowered in thankful prayer over Turkey dinner. The hypocrisy that that image presents is galling, outrageous and off-putting. I cannot imagine having to get tested just so you can go play golf or ice hockey with your dad or bake pies with your aunt or open gifts with the kids.
It’s bad enough that our municipal holiday events are so fascist now. Only a certain amount of people allowed on the ice skating rink at one time. Circles for people to stand in while they wait on line for a bag of roasted chestnuts from the vender. Public Christmas markets with long lines of people waiting to get in may require invasive (not to mention unlawful) temperature checks at every entrance. Security guards may loom at every entrance barking “PUT ON YOUR MASK!” Everyone probably looking like a scene out of Night of the Living Dead wearing masks with their dead eyes peeking over their designer face diapers. This does not give me the warm fuzzies no matter how good the spiced cider smells as it wafts through the air.
Maybe before the Age of COVID your arguments were about politics or life choices or why a person is still single, or why someone couldn’t get a job or hold onto a job, or why someone is failing in school. Maybe there was that awkward moment when you have a big announcement to make and you are scared of what the reaction to that announcement might be. Or worse, maybe your announcement has banned you to the margins and you’re no longer treated the same by your family.
Then there’s the subtle inherited hierarchy in the family. The scapegoat, the narcissist, the enabler, the flying monkey are all in the same room and the air grows thick with tension as all the toxic little games and bullshit that come with each role each person has been designated to play their entire life gets played over and over again like clockwork during a family holiday event.
There’s a myriad of awkward, difficult and emotionally-charged conversations and blame and arguments that tend to shape our holiday experiences with our families.
Imagine all of that now in the Age of COVID when the stakes are so much higher. “Why don’t you call your mother once in a while!” has now been super charged to “Put on a mask or else you’ll kill grandma you murderer!”
Make sure you have a back up plan this year. That’s all I’m saying.
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