Before You Have a Holiday Gathering, Read This.

This pandemic is far from over. In fact, just in the past week, cases have surged. According to CNBC, White House advisor Dr. Deborah Birx warned that the winter COVID-19 surge will be “the worst event that this country will face.” In Alabama alone, 35% of tests in the week before December 4th were positive, leading Alabama to have the sixth highest positivity rate in the nation.

I know that the holidays are one of the most exciting times of the year, especially in 2020, when we all desperately need a little more joy in our lives. When I think of what I love most about the holidays, it’s being able to gather with the people that I love. I know that most would have the same answer as me. This year, we have one thing standing in between visiting family and friends: a global pandemic. 

Thanksgiving was so different for me this year. My uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents who usually travel down to visit decided it was best not to do so this year. I was proud of their decision to protect themselves and others, but I couldn't help but feel overwhelming disappointment, especially when seeing other families gather on social media. However, I knew that my family did what was best for ourselves and others. 

I urge everyone to do the same. Put others before yourself. I know we’ve gotten to a point in the pandemic where it feels like we must move on with our lives. However, with flu and COVID-19 combining, cases surging, and hospitalizations rising, we all need to take a step back. Especially as college students who are going home to our potentially more high-risk parents or grandparents, it’s important now more than ever to stay home when you can, wear a mask, and social distance. 

If you are still planning to visit family or friends, be sure to wear your mask, social distance, and quarantine before. Try your best to make the gathering as safe as possible. During such a time of isolation and uncertainty, just know that whatever you’re feeling is valid. It’s okay to be upset and sad about the experiences we have lost and are going to lose to COVID-19. However, there is still so much to be grateful for.  Continue to hope. It’s the only thing we can do. 

Let’s stay in and mask up, so just maybe we can have a semi-normal holiday season in 2021. Getting ourselves, and especially our loved one’s sick isn’t worth the risk.