This is the time of the year when we typically prepare for family traditions and gatherings, when we go shopping for gifts and festive holiday meals, when we gather together in grand style to celebrate the holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve and Day. But this year, for the first time in our lives, we have to say NO! This year, we must refuse holiday gatherings with family and friends, because our lives and the lives of all of those around us depend upon it.
Nearly 250,000 people nationwide have died from coronavirus: 5,500 in Ohio alone. Every day we set new records for cases diagnosed, hospitalizations and deaths.
We are tired. We miss our loved ones. We want to celebrate the end of a difficult year. But this year, we must make sacrifices. With COVID raging throughout our state and nation, there is no safe space for in-person celebratory meals with loved ones, for board games or puzzles with young relatives. Instead, we must follow the revised guidance of the CDC and the recommendations of Governor DeWine. Traditional gatherings put us at risk of spreading the virus among loved ones. We cannot crowd around the traditional holiday table and maintain a six-foot distance from one another.
Some will mock this advice and insist on having their traditional holiday parties. It may give them a sense of independence. But when the virus infects Grandma, and she ends up in the hospital on a ventilator (or worse), how will you live with the guilt?
For the health of your household and our entire community, use technology to stay in touch this holiday season. Schedule your candle lighting, tree trimming, holiday singing and New Year’s toasting on Zoom. Place your iPad between the brisket and the potato pancakes and share a festive meal with your relatives via Facetime or Houseparty.
Let the words of Meria Marom’s haiku give you strength to get through this season:
We isolate now
So when we gather again
No one is missing.
Next year, we hope to have vaccines and medicines that will allow us to return to a normal life. But for now, we make sacrifices. Don’t be the reason that someone is missing when we can safely gather again. Stay home, and keep your household safe. Best wishes for a happy, healthy holiday season.
If you still insist on gathering with those outside your household, please follow these guidelines:
- Take temperatures of those entering your home. Turn away anyone exhibiting a high fever or other symptoms of coronavirus.
- Limit the number of guests so that you can maintain 6-foot distances at all times. Set up smaller tables in the garage with the door open.
- Make everyone wear a mask that covers mouth AND NOSE, and wash/sanitize hands before entering.
- Limit the amount of time together. If you go for dinner, don’t stay for TV or socializing. The CDC warns that a mere 15 minutes of exposure to someone who is COVID positive greatly increases your risk of becoming infected.
- Provide increased ventilation with open windows or by continuously running the furnace fan and stove exhaust.
- Encourage guests to bring their own food and drinks for themselves and members of their household. Avoid pot-luck style gatherings and avoid congregating in the kitchen near food.
- Wear a mask when preparing and serving food and any time when not actively eating or drinking.