jOllie, who is 38 and lives in North Carolina, considers herself, her husband, and their two children “coronavirus zero.” motivated Studies on the potential long-term effects of COVID-19 on the bodyThey steer their lives around not getting infected with the virus. That means avoiding indoor spaces where people aren’t masked, often wearing masks outside, and looking for providers who still take precautions, such as masking up and using air purifiers. For the most part, says Julie, that’s fine. “There’s not much we don’t do,” she says — they do everything indoors High quality masks. (Like others interviewed for this story, Jolie asked to be identified by first name only to protect her family’s privacy.)
However, the holidays present some challenges. Jolie’s relatives were no longer willing to take the safety measures that would make her family You feel comfortable in the pool They’re with them in person, she says, so her roommate will celebrate by “making better food” than usual and eating it at home. The hardest part, she says, has been watching family members who were once open to 14 days of isolation before visits drop precautions, knowing that this means Jolie and her family won’t feel comfortable joining in the festivities.
We’re not skimping; says Jolie. If her relatives were willing to wear good masks inside and eat outside, she says she would feel comfortable “mostly” congregating. But that willingness — so strong in 2020 — has now faded.
Other people wary of COVID are likely to experience similar disagreements with their loved ones. According to data from a Harris Poll compiled for TIME, holiday celebrations are trending toward pre-pandemic norms. This year, 72% of adults in the United States plan to celebrate the holidays with at least one person outside their family — down from 81% who did before the pandemic, but up from 66% last year. About 45% plan to travel during this year’s holiday season, compared to 58% pre-pandemic and 42% last year.
But even most of the country Transition from pandemic-era politicsPlenty of families still plan for the holidays gathering around Zoom screens and outdoor heat lamps, doing their best to have “a side dish and gift for the holiday dinner, not a virus,” says Claire, 39. About 55% of US adults said COVID-19 will affect their vacation plans, according to Time Harris poll data. Even among those who will be meeting in person, nearly a third plan to limit the size of their celebrations, while 12% said they would need masks or hold the event outdoors.
Claire and her husband, who live in the South, would do all of the above. They were wary about the spread of the disease even before the pandemic, because they had a 4-year-old who was born prematurely and could have serious complications from the respiratory disease. This holiday season, they’ll be bunting and wearing masks to celebrate in the yard at Claire’s wives’ family home. For Thanksgiving dinner, they’ll eat in opposite corners of the patio before putting their masks back on. If it was too cold at Christmas for them to open presents outside, they would exchange presents and then go home to unwrap them.
Claire says this is how they’ve done it since 2020, but acknowledges that the system requires sacrifices. She doesn’t feel comfortable attending her grandmother’s big, multi-family Thanksgiving dinner, and she’s mostly seeing her friends and their kids over Zoom these days. But for Claire, the downsides pale in comparison to keeping her family healthy in the face of a virus that, for the subset of people who contract it, It can lead to lifelong disability. “I am in a position where I can protect my child and protect us, and I will do everything I can,” she says.
Other families with risk factors go to great lengths to avoid the virus. Karen, 39, who lives in Tennessee, was, too Post-viral complications including chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia for 22 years, ever since she caught mono in her teens and never fully recovered. A cold can put her in bed for six weeks. Her doctor warned her in 2020 that COVID-19 could be disastrous for her health.
As the virus continues to spread widely, Karen, her husband, and their child remain confined almost completely, venturing out primarily for medical appointments and remote outdoor activities like biking, picnics, and hiking. When friends come over, her family visits them through the window. That means large holiday gatherings are off the table for the foreseeable future.
“It was always very important to me to have an open house for anyone who didn’t have a place to go” during the holidays, says Karen. But these days, her doors remain closed to everyone except her husband’s parents, who live locally and lead a similarly closed lifestyle.
Max, who is 26 and lives in New York City, is following in his parents’ footsteps when it comes to the virus. His parents wear masks everywhere and avoid higher-risk environments, such as restaurants and movie theatres, because COVID-19 can be severe for people his age group. Max chooses to spend Thanksgiving with his girlfriend’s family instead of his own to avoid making his parents worry that they might get sick.
He says he may go home for the winter break, because he’ll have more time to quarantine and test beforehand. Max says he’d feel good about giving up these precautions if his parents didn’t ask for them, but for now, he’s happy to do whatever makes them comfortable. “I understand the principle that the people most at risk make the rules,” he says.
Not everyone understands that. Kara Darling, 46, who lives in Delaware, is in the process of divorcing her husband because he was ready to “reintegrate” into society around the time the vaccines were rolled out, and she’s chosen to remain very wary of the coronavirus by working remotely, educating her children At home, socialize only with those who are willing to take extreme precautions. Darling’s position is defined by her work as Director of Research and Practice at a clinic that treats people with complex conditions, which has brought her exposure to realities. Life with COVID is longand the fact that three of her children had an overactive immune system.
“You grieve about your plans and the reality you thought you were going to have and what you thought life would look like,” she says. “When you reach acceptance, the question becomes, ‘Am I going to sit and bemoan a life I wish I had, or am I going to pivot to it?'” “
Darling has chosen to take the spin. She runs several Facebook groups for people who “still have the virus” – that is, they are still taking precautions against catching the virus. She’s also set up a frequent outdoor get-together for homeschooled kids in her district, and she’s developed a community willing to build new holiday traditions for the pandemic era. Families in their “still coronavirus” postcards are spinning postcards ahead of Valentine’s Day and Halloween treats. They exchange home-cooked dishes on Thanksgiving and eat them together on Zoom. They leave presents on porches at birthdays and honk when they drive up to say hello.
Darling’s Thanksgiving will be small this year – only her family, her eldest son, and her son’s friend cook and eat together at home. (Darling’s son and girlfriend don’t live with her, so they’ll avoid any nonessential public activities, wear respirators, and get tested multiple times in the 10 days before coming.) But outside the walls of her home, Darling has built the bonds that help her get through the dark moments.
“It’s about being part of a community,” she says. “We built a reliable family.”
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