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How COVID Has Changed Our Holidays Yet Again

We assumed last year would be the only holiday season affected by COVID-19. Unfortunately, we were wrong. While we have vaccines to help keep us protected, there’s new variants coming out. The news is filled with tips and tricks on how to stay safe this holiday season, how COVID will affect our travel plans to see loved ones, as well as doctors and experts talking about the most recent variant, Omicron. Another difference this year is the availability of at-home COVID testing kits that people are now using to determine whether or not they can even go to family gatherings. The reality of it all is that COVID is still affecting the way we do things, but we are adapting our lives around it.

I know for me personally, COVID has completely changed the holidays. There are a lot of family members that I can’t see because they’re immunocompromised. While they might be vaccinated, there is still the very valid fear that they can still get it because there have been a lot of breakthrough cases. While I might not be as afraid of the virus as I was when it first came out (I was terrified of getting the virus), I am still worried about accidentally giving the virus to a loved one. I know the chances of me having it and being asymptomatic are high because I am young and healthy so I try to be very careful around people I know are high risk.

During Thanksgiving, my family did end up getting together, which was awesome, but I got exposed to COVID at that gathering. I then had to quarantine and get tested to see if I caught it (which I didn’t thankfully). While we all want things to go back to normal, I just don’t think they will. I think this is just our new normal. There’s always going to be a chance that someone at your family gathering might have it because of the whole asymptomatic thing. But now that we actually had a family gathering where COVID was actually present, I’m worried that my family might be afraid to do another get together.

Over the last almost two years, I have had a lot of family members I haven’t been able to see under normal circumstances because of the fear of catching COVID constantly looming overhead. We constantly hear about people dying on the news, breakthrough cases, new variants, etc. It’s really scary stuff, especially if you are someone who has serious anxiety or if you’re someone who’s in the high risk category.

The other thing that I think is the most damaging is how the COVID-19 vaccine has literally torn some families apart. I wish I was exaggerating, but I have literally seen family members exclude family members for not having the vaccine. I’ve seen people let an unvaccinated child into their gatherings, but not the sibling who is an adult and unvaccinated. Vaccination status is literally keeping some family members from being allowed at gatherings that are happening.

I understand how the people on both sides feel, I really do. The people getting it are trying to protect themselves and their loved ones. The people not getting it are worried that there isn’t enough research because of how new the vaccine is. But ultimately, it is each person’s choice. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and it is a person’s choice who they want to be around, like if a vaccinated person doesn’t feel comfortable around unvaccinated people. That is completely valid because we know breakthrough cases are possible. What I feel is not okay is shoving your beliefs onto others or straight up turning against people for having differing opinions.

We all want this pandemic to end and we all want life to go back to normal. But to attack others for believing that they’re doing what is right for themselves is not okay. This pandemic has caused a lot of stress and anxiety. I know some people who are anxious about the vaccine and that’s why they won’t get it. I also know people who are so anxious about getting COVID and that was their reason for getting the vaccine. People are really struggling and understandably because we have been dealing with a pandemic for almost two years now.

We all want to be able to gather with loved ones without the anxiety that we might give or get COVID during the gathering. We want to be able to travel to loved ones across the country or across the world without the fear of catching COVID on the way to our loved ones. We’d love to not have to take a COVID test before seeing our loved ones. We would love for COVID to stop mutating. But, we are resilient and we are adapting to this weird new normal. We are finding new ways to connect and celebrate holidays. Thank goodness for video chatting!

We made it through the last COVID holiday season, and we will make it through this one too. I hope everyone has a great winter holiday season!

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