A question posed this week in a local Facebook group (How has Covid-19 affected your holiday plans?) promptly drew controversial replies. The majority of responders said Covid-19 will have no impact whatsoever on their Christmas festivities, and they will celebrate the season with family and friends per their usual practice, without restrictions, sans facial masks and social distancing.
Monmouth County residents are not the only ones planning to ignore Covid-19 this holiday season. A TIME/Harris poll released December 11th revealed “a large share of Americans is planning to attend holiday celebrations.” 44% of U.S. adults told TIME/Harris that they are planning to attend in-person holiday celebrations, and 30% will celebrate New Year’s with friends and family outside their household. One in four Americans is planning to travel this Christmas, and one in five has plans to travel for New Year’s.
Apparently, non-compliance with suggested CDC holiday restrictions is common. What’s going on here? Is our resistance a manifestation of the “it can’t happen to me!” mindset, or are people naively clinging to the Covid-19 hoax theory? Have we succumbed to the very real Covid fatigue? Is our refusal to stay home and social distance this Christmas/New Year’s indicative of our political divide? Are we selfish, foolhardy, or just plain stupid?
While the never-Trumpers are keen to lay blame for all this at Donald Trump’s feet (If the President won’t wear a mask, why should we? If the President can host holiday parties, we can, too!), it is not entirely his fault. Yes, there are avid Trump supporters who hang on the man’s every word, but we each have the capacity to make decisions for ourselves. We have free will. Choosing to forego our traditional holiday hoopla this year in the interest of community health is our decision, not the President’s.
That being said, I must admit to feeling somewhat like a fool sitting here apart from my family while others make merry this Christmas. At first, the TIME/Harris poll results angered me. Why should those of us adhering to CDC guidelines forfeit time with our families when the irresponsible behavior of others will negate our efforts? Why should we yield to complaints about violated personal freedoms when reckless disregard for Covid guidelines compromises community health?
As many Americans succumb to Covid fatigue (and if we are honest, we are all on the brink!), my initial anger has been replaced by a heavy sadness. If rising coronavirus deaths in the United States (approaching 300,000) and an average daily death toll of over 2,000, coupled with the raw testimony of emotionally taxed front line medical personnel doesn’t impact our personal behavior, then we are a pitiful lot, indeed.
There are those among us who like to say, “we are better than this,” but judging from our attitude, we are not. This is who we are. We are a tired, disappointed, selfish bunch of people who want what we want when we want it. We want our pre-Covid lives back. NOW. Refusing to follow CDC guidelines this holiday season, however, will not accomplish that. It will backfire. The fact that so many Americans don’t realize that, or don’t care, is just plain sad.