I realized that the CDC wasn't just giving general guidance to other people—it was speaking directly to me.
It's been a long, lonely year raising kids without the support of any family.
So my husband and I had been trying to find a way to see both of our families over the holidays that was as low-risk as possible. Two months ago, we hatched an elaborate plan that we thought would allow us to see our families while keeping some risks in check.
The plan was this: We would fly down to a condo in Florida with our kids a week before Thanksgiving and quarantine for seven days. Assuming we would get negative COVID-19 tests at the end of that period, my in-laws would drive over from a few states away to spend some time together. A week after they left, my parents would fly down to join us for Christmas. It wasn't without risk, but with masks, obsessive hygiene and COVID-19 testing, we thought we were mitigating the major concerns.`
Judging from my Facebook moms' groups and real-life social circles, lots of other people are doing this kind of holiday-risk assessment this week, too.
I realize that many people were prudent enough to never expect to spend time with their families this holiday. But I'd been telling myself that this risk-reduction strategy was okay and that most likely, our families would be fine.
But what if we weren't? And what if we unintentionally spread COVID-19? My fears and moral dilemmas did not abate as the weeks went on.
And then the cases began rising. And ICU workers once again started sounding the alarm bells. And my dad was hospitalized for an unrelated illness—but we needed to keep him extra safe while he physically recovers.
I began to realize that the CDC wasn't just giving general guidance about the absolute necessity of quarantining just to other people—it was speaking directly to me.
And, if I'm honest, the news that at least two incredibly-effective vaccines are on the horizon bolstered my commitment to quarantine for a few more months. As hard and boring and lonely as these months have been, researchers have been sprinting towards a vaccine while we've been stuck at home. And now that things are closer than ever, I've decided that it's time to double down on social distancing.
So, mama, it's okay to cancel your holiday plans.
Even if you've been desperately looking forward to this time.
Even if you need to do an about-face.
Even if you need to admit, like me, that you were wrong.
The happiest holiday we can have this year is a healthy one.