The recent lockdown has done a lot for bringing parents and children closer together. Lots of moms are reconnecting with their kids as daycare and schools have shut down. And that’s great. Maybe a few families will reconsider the value of a two-income lifestyle.
But for the extended family, things are quite a bit different. In my family Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas are gathering times when three and even four generations gather for a big meal and a long weekend or holiday to catch up with each other and reconnect with parents, children, brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews, nieces, grandchildren and grandparents. Everybody plays his role and we perform all the rituals we’ve come to expect. We repeat all the old stories but with new faces in the younger ranks and maybe an older face or two missing. We hear about who is graduating or going off to college or has a new job or is getting married. We try to keep the younger children from getting bored by playing cards or listening to their latest imaginary adventure. The older folks talk politics and world events. And everyone eats way too much and for a little while gets to feel much younger again.
Well, not this year. For the first time in several decades we can’t get together. I won’t be seeing my brothers and sister. I won’t even see my own children or their families. So, no grandkids, no babies. No fattening and delicious roast beasts or birds. Just a regular dinner, just me and Camera Girl. Very sad, very strange.
And I imagine this disruption is being replicated across the country in millions of families in every city and town. The upshot is that in addition to our jobs and our savings being thrown into disarray and possibly suffering a terrible economic recession we are also isolated and our normal relationships upended. No one wants to be the cause of someone getting terribly ill or even dying. And if you have extremely elderly parents in their late eighties or nineties it’s reasonable to say that for the sake of saving their lives, they should be kept isolated at least until we understand this disease a little better.
But now the Health-Nazis are starting to insinuate that we may have to go through this disruption again in the summer and then every year when a fresh seasonal mutant of the coronavirus is identified. Well, I’ve got news for them. Not me. I’m not in my eighties or even my seventies but even at my age there is a higher death rate than in the general population. I might catch it from a school age relation at a holiday dinner or get together. Well that’s too damn bad. I’m not going to allow this charade to go on after this first silliness is ended. Comes the Fourth of July I’m inviting everyone over for a barbecue and if that puts me in the hospital or sends me to my grave then at least I’ll have had some excellent steak and way too much pie and ice cream. And I’ll get a chance to see my children and their spouses and my grandsons and granddaughter swimming in the pool and eating hamburgers and watermelon on a hot summer evening.
Now understand, if this thing were a threat to the young then I would understand why caution would be needed. But it isn’t. It’s a disease of the old and the chronically ill. For those individuals, death is a real consideration without the COVID-19 pandemic. If I were someone who wanted to maximize my odds of living to be a hundred and twenty then I would probably live in a bubble and avoid all contact with the young and active. And for people of that mindset, isolation would be their own choice. But I’m not and I won’t. The authorities are going to have to come up with some better way to minimize the effects of this thing. My suggestion is to end air traffic to China. Apparently, that country has a never-ending supply of virulent respiratory diseases. We can’t afford to let hundreds of thousands of infected people shuttle between China and the West every Chinese New Year just because we don’t want to hurt their feelings.
So that’s my thought. I’ll get through this present phase without the consolation of enjoying the company of my extended family. We’ll do a video get together and share some time together as we eat our sad meals apart. But if they think I’m going to keep doing this in the future they are dead wrong.