The holidays should be different this year


The world is a very different place today than it was at the beginning of the year.

Yes, we will have a new president in this country next year. But I am really taking about COVID-19, the virus that has changed all of our lives.

Many have been working from home for eight months or so now, something they could never have foreseen. My wife, for example, travels a lot for work. But she hasn’t had an overnight trip since March.

I, too, am working from home and it has taken some adjustment, honestly. I worked in newsrooms for decades and was always out and about. Now, I do go out for the occasional interview, but most are done over the phone. I do go out to Ogle County to take photos and to cover some court dates. The Ogle County Board has, thankfully, been having its meetings remotely, so we don’t have to all go into a meeting room.

By now, most of us know people who have died from COVID, whether it be family members or friends. The spike we saw back in the spring pales in comparison to the rise of cases we are seeing now. It is infecting and killing us at a rate no one should find acceptable.

My wife and I mostly stay at home. When we do have to go out, like grocery shopping, we try to do it off peak hours and always – always – wear our masks. This is not something to play with.

The real challenge, of course, will be the upcoming holidays. Health officials are worried that people are going to get together with family on Thanksgiving and Christmas. And no matter how safe you try to be, it could end up with family members infecting family members.

I know this is going to be very difficult for some people. Many families love to gather for the holidays and enjoy good food, conversation and company. These are long-standing traditions that are tough to break.

I can tell you I would love to see my father. I had planned to see him this year, but his health is way more important to me than a trip to see him. Even if I didn’t believe the science, I would never take that chance with my father’s life. And I do believe the science, of course.

But this year is not like last year, or any other year we have ever had in our lives. That means we need to do something different. A video call is a great way get everyone together and it is safe. You could cook a meal together, eat and enjoy conversation all from the safety of your own home. No, it is not the same thing, but this is not the same year we have always had.

Christmas could be much the same. Everyone can call in at a designated time and unwrap presents and enjoy some holiday cheer. Take turns showing off your decorations and holiday meal. Share old family photos and swap stories.

I know some people scoff at things like this. After all we have seen in the past number of months and the climbing death toll, I can only shake my head at those people.

But we all love our families, and we want to keep each other safe. So, this year – this one year – let’s all do the right thing and not have big holiday gatherings. It is not the same as being there, but it is one way to try to make sure you will all be there the next year so you can hopefully see each other face to face.