Go and see your family on Thanksgiving. Yes, even if you have to travel out of state to do it. In case you’re wondering, yes, I’ve heard of the pandemic, and yet I repeat: Go see your family on Thanksgiving.
Last Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio urged New Yorkers not to travel for the holidays to see their family members. Two weeks earlier, Hizzoner had skipped Columbus Day celebrations in the city, because, according to his spokesperson, “the mayor is out of state visiting family today.”
Never mind getting angry about his hypocrisy. Just do as de Blasio did — not as he said.
Look, we’ve made some major mistakes in our handling of the COVID-19 crisis, and the main one has been discarding everything that makes our lives worth living out of fear of the virus. The pandemic has the potential to destroy our way of life if we keep dismissing everything important to us. Family is important. We shouldn’t forget that.
I say this precisely because I listen to scientists. We aren’t signing up for a short-term spell inside baking banana bread like we believed we were doing in March (remember those days?). The virus will be with us long-term, the scientists say so, and we must adjust our lives accordingly. And adjusting must mean not discarding the things that truly matter to a rational and social animal like the human being — family, community, worship.
Look, I’m not saying go to an underground nightclub, rub up against complete strangers and then go see Grandma. But don’t live in a bubble. If you’re flying for Thanksgiving, find out where you can get a fast test on arrival and then quarantine for 24 hours until you get your results. COVID-19 isn’t going to jump out from behind a corner and surprise you. We know what to do.
Be safe, not insane.
But you don’t get to pause your life and all that matters in it, and plan to hit an “on” switch in a year or three. People will die, not necessarily of COVID, and you will live with the regret of not having seen them when you could have.
It’s precisely because COVID-19 has shown us that life is so fragile that we should make a priority to actually live it.
Last week, Kim Kardashian was berated as insensitive for posting on social media that she had taken her friends and family to a private island to celebrate her 40th birthday. “After two weeks of multiple health screens and asking everyone to quarantine, I surprised my closest inner circle with a trip to a private island where we could pretend things were normal just for a brief moment in time.”
People were mad. “Read the room, Kim” was a popular refrain. It isn’t atypical for a celebrity, particularly one of the Kardashians, to travel via private airplane to a private island to celebrate her birthday.
In any other year, we’d all be scrolling through Kim’s pictures and checking out her décolletage. It was the fact that Kim got a little “normal” that really seemed to rub people the wrong way.
We all miss normal and long for its return. Even all the side pleasures of COVID — the baking and the togetherness, the empty subways and the beautiful outdoor dining set-ups — only manage to somewhat mask that we yearn so badly for our lives, our real lives, the ones hopefully waiting for us on the other side of this.
Kim got to live her regular life for a little while, and people were jealous. It might not involve private jets and islands, but you can live your regular life, too. You can go see your family on Thanksgiving and argue about the election, just like in olden days. Your great-aunt can squeeze your cheeks. Your mom can badger you about getting married. You can drink too much with your cousins.
You can overeat and sink into the couch you’ve known since you were a teenager. You’ve been through an insane year, you’re tired and worn out. You need to collapse into the comfortable embrace of those who know and love you best. For God’s sake, go see your family on Thanksgiving.