Let's do our best to keep everyone safe over the holidays


We are all creatures of habit. For example, when we leave the house we grab our wallet – or purse – keys, sunglasses.

And a mask.

Yep, that pesky mask. Feels like we were born with them on our face (well, those of us who use them), but it has only been a year and a half or so.

I am firmly in the habit of grabbing my mask and putting it in my pocket when I leave the house. Going to a restaurant? Wear it to the table. Grocery store? Mandatory. Here’s the thing – COVID is not over. And not by a long shot. In Winnebago County the number of cases remains high. In Ogle County, despite the best efforts of health officials, people continue to get sick and die.

The U.S. still leads the world in daily COVID cases, deaths and COVID hospitalizations. The reason? A lot of people just won’t get vaccinated. We have way lower vaccination rates than other Western countries.

But I am not here to ask you to get a vaccination. If you haven’t by now, you probably won’t. Your body, your choice, right? That is fine with me.

I am vaccinated, so my concern is not that high. Yes, I can still get sick. But my chances of severe illness that can lead to hospitalization or death is very, very low. Way lower than those who are not vaccinated.

My worry is about people who are especially vulnerable. With the holidays at hand, we will be gathering with family and friends. It is a wonderful, joyful time. But gathering can mean older and not as healthy people will be in our personal space bubble.

This can be dangerous with a pandemic still raging in our country, of course. My wife and I did not gather last year as we usually do with family in Wisconsin due to COVID but hope to this year.

What will that look like? Well, it will mean masking a social distancing. Is it inconvenient? Sure, it is, but is that worth the health of those around me? To me, that is a clear “yes.”

I hope everyone will do the same. Please, be cautious around potentially vulnerable family members and friends. You can sit around in your masks and talk about how ridiculous it is that you must.

The old saying, “Better safe than sorry” comes into play here. I don’t like wearing masks either. Well, in the winter they can give some extra warmth, but they can clearly be uncomfortable to say the least.

But wearing one over the holidays if you gather with family won’t be such an inconvenience that it will ruin your holidays, I promise. You can even make biting remarks about family members you aren’t particularly fond of under your breath and have a great chance of getting away with it.

Other benefits:

* A great way to block your uncle’s bad breath.

* The perfect way to hide your daughter’s new lip ring from grandma and grandpa.

* Don’t feel like trimming your nose hair? Wear that mask!

I hope everyone has a chance to see those they love this holiday. That is what this time of year is all about. I just encourage everyone to be as safe as possible. Let’s ensure we can get together for years to come.