OPINION: We must accept the hard truth about not gathering this holiday season

Dec 18 2020, 11:36 am

Every year, my mom and I get together to bake holiday cookies. We make dozens and probably eat a dozen to “test” how good they are. It’s also a chance for me to see my parents and brother for some good old fashioned family time.

This year, there was no cookie baking session and instead, it was replaced by a tearful phone call.

For some idiotic reason, I had a glimmer of hope I could make this annual holiday tradition work. I have been careful for weeks, staying within my immediate household, keeping my bubble as small as it could possibly be.

My false hope was also ironic because I tune in to BC’s daily COVID-19 briefings every day. For weeks, I have heard BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry repeatedly talk about the precautions we need to take this holiday season.

“No event or gathering is completely safe right now and we need to be aware of that because the virus continues to circulate in our communities and tragically, people continue to lose their loved ones to this virus,” she said during the December 14 update.

Although Henry has expressed a sense of hope and relief about the arrival of the first COVID-19 vaccines in BC, she has also shared her concerns about people letting their guards down this holiday season.

“We’re in the final leg of this now but there is still a ways to go,” she said.

“My biggest fear right now is that we’re not going to do enough, were going to let off right now and people are unnecessarily going to be exposed and some of them very ill will end up in our hospitals and end up dying at this point where we’re so, so close.”

As mentioned, my false glimmer of hope to visit my parents was replaced by a tearful phone call about how we won’t be seeing each other this holiday season.

I was the one crying because reality finally hit me, hard. My parents were on the other end,  calmly explaining why with all the reasons I already knew but just didn’t want to admit to myself.

Admitting the reality of a pandemic taking away our holiday traditions this year is something that is undoubtedly tough for many.

Accepting that truth can tough to swallow because our families and friends have been the pillars of strength and the support network to get us through the awful year that has been 2020.

But it’s not as hard as having to accept that your loved one contracted COVID-19 during that one “small” gathering you agreed to attend because you have been “so careful,” or having to accept that they had to be taken to hospital, or having to accept you won’t be able to visit them ever again because COVID-19 took their life.

We also can’t forget that there are over 700 British Columbians who have died because of COVID-19 and their family members won’t be able to see them this holiday season or ever again. Real people have been gravely impacted by this virus. They are not just numbers reported by health officials during daily COVID-19 press conferences.

I had to give a head a shake for my own lack of judgement because I feel guilty and frankly selfish that I even thought that paying my parents a visit could have been fine.

And it could have been completely fine. I could have gone, made cookies, and spent time with them, and left without anyone getting sick.

But it could have also been the complete opposite and I could have also unknowingly passed on the virus to the people I can’t imagine my life without.

So I’m grateful for that phone call. Albeit hard, it helped me accept what I already knew but just didn’t want to admit to myself.

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