I’ve been moving around quite a bit since the beginning of the pandemic because I’m a caretaker and I can’t avoid it. Also, my natural germaphobic nature has shifted from being described as “kind of weird” to being appropriately self-protective. And while I can control myself, I can’t direct anyone else’s behavior. The least I can do is share my guidelines based on what I’ve witnessed.
Strap on a mask.
I know there’s someone who’s reading this and thinking that masks don’t work, or perhaps he/she has concocted a lot of crap in their heads about how masks are muzzles or other such nonsense.
So . . . real talk? A mask is a form of basic hygiene during a pandemic. I don’t really understand the resistance. It’s as if people don’t realize how germs are spread and have no appreciation for the nastiness of human beings. Aside from preventing you from breathing on others, they keep you from being breathed upon. Realistically, masks are saving you from yourself.
If you don’t believe me (or anyone else with common sense), let me dazzle you with a few medical statistics (no, I’m not a doctor . . . but I read). So, here goes:
The average person touches his/her face a minimum of 16 times per hour, with about half of those touches making contact with the nose and mouth, which are mucus membranes and the very points of entry for the disease. While wearing a mask, your nose and mouth are covered (if you’re wearing it correctly, and not around your chin, Chad!). Casual nose-picking and/or licking your fingers to open a thin plastic bag in the produce department are not possibilities while wearing a mask. If you can manage to avoid rubbing your eyes, you might just avoid catching colds, the flu, hoof and mouth disease, and ‘the Rona.
This is NOT the time to be handsy
If you have the occasion and/or good fortune to meet new people, now is NOT the time to taint the experience by going in for an unnecessary handshake. During COVID, all formalities of professionalism that require physical contact are not necessary. I wasn’t a fan of shaking hands before the pandemic, and I’m definitely not making direct contact with any virus-infested grubby paws during a pandemic, nor am I spreading my germs to others.
Because I’m a fan of digression, I’m forced to wonder why we have that tradition in the first place? There is nothing gratifying about a handshake. It’s not an enjoyable experience. The grip is either too firm, too light, or disturbingly clammy. You spend lots of time afterward wondering where that person’s hand has been and setting a mental reminder to scrub your mitts before your next meal. (Just me?) I would prefer to greet people with a smile and a nod, thereby saving myself the anxiety and potentially avoid contracting an illness.
And don’t even THINK about a hug. While I’m not a classic hugger, I get that, as people, we are in a place where we crave human contact and haven’t seen many of our friends. Don’t be so happy to see people that you risk killing them, or being killed by them.
Bag your own groceries
I always use self-service grocery lanes because scanning and bagging my own order reduces the number of people who handle my items. The other day, I read the frightening statistic that one in four grocery workers have COVID, with many being asymptomatic. Also? I’m faster than any grocery store worker than I’ve ever encountered AND I know how to separate food from detergent. #winning
Stay the hell away from your family
To refer to 2020 as a “dumpster fire” is a gross understatement. Everything this year has been a colossal shit-show, and the holidays are NOT going to be amazing. Has anyone seen the 2020Rockefeller Christmas tree? It’s rising to the occasion of the year and appears to be dry and lackluster. It makes the Charlie Brown Christmas tree appear majestic!
If you were to have a family gathering for the holidays, you KNOW the food won’t be tasty (because, 2020), and most of us have already been eating too much this year. Do we NEED another 3000 calorie meal? A feast is clearly overkill. You might as well stay home and avoid killing your grandparents.
I get it, though . . . you might want to feel some semblance of normalcy this year since everything else has been turned upside down. Family traditions are nostalgic and attending family gatherings evokes feelings of childhood and safety.
Although, what I find to be the MOST baffling is that, any other year, by now there would have multitudes of depressing FB posts lamenting upcoming family visits. “My family is going to make me feel inadequate for being single.” “My mother is going to make me feel like I’m not enough.” “Everyone’s going to ask us why we don’t have children.” “My grandmother is going to talk about my weight.” “My siblings are mean to me.” “I’m going to need years of therapy to recover.”
Well . . . you know what? You get a pass this year!
Because realistically, how many of us are so enamored with our family? Let’s face it . . . lots of your family members get on your nerves. Maybe your sister-in-law can’t cook, yet insists on tackling the mac and cheese (and screwing it up) EVERY SINGLE GODDAMNED YEAR. Your nieces and nephews might be insufferable brats who are only concerned about their own gifts. Maybe grandpa is grumpy and senile. If you REALLY think about it, you might realize that you probably wouldn’t even speak to most of your extended (or immediate) family, unless there was a bloodline.
Truth be told, you could be surprised at how refreshing it will be to stay home and eat whatever the hell you want on Thanksgiving (and probably Christmas, at the rate we’re going). How many more opportunities will you get to have an entire year without green bean casserole??
Order yourself a big pizza – with turkey sausage, if you must — and sprawl on your couch, snuggling your pets or quarantine bae while consuming large quantities of wine (or edibles), and relax! Who knows? You might even start a new tradition of eliminating holiday emotional abuse!
Still pining for your family? Okay, we’re back to statistics . . . whenever someone justifies a gathering by saying “it’s ONLY 10 people,” bear in mind that it’s not the quantity of your group. It’s the quality! If only two members of your family of 10 have been exposed to COVID, that’s 20% of your group, and more than you need to put the entire family on ventilators by New Year’s Eve. And we all desperately want to escape 2020 alive, right? (Unless you’re secretly trying to infect your family, in which case we didn’t have this conversation.)
That sums up the advice that you didn’t ask for! I wish everyone a safe and healthy Thanksgiving.