‘Tis the Season…to be Smarter

“At the end of the day, it is a lack of compassion.”

Hospital Nurse in El Paso, Texas.

The above observation from the El Paso hospital nurse appears in an online HuffPost article with the headline, “Our Health Care Heroes Are Getting Fed Up With Us.” The frustration stems from the millions of us who are ignoring commonsense warnings about the coronavirus, or who, selfishly, just don’t care.

The rest of the nurse’s comment goes like this: “Stay home, take care of yourself, stop going to see other family members. Just stay home.” That plea comes from a front line worker who speaks from sad experience. It comes from a health care worker who has seen countless people suffer and die, virtually alone. Strangers, doctors and nurses whose names the COVID victims most likely don’t know, are the only people who can be there to hold their hands as they take their final, labored, painful breaths.

“Stay home.” The plea could not be more desperate. The good news is that AAA predicts most of us will heed that plea and follow the lyrics of that old seasonal song, “There’s no place like home for the holidays…” The bad news is that an expected 84.5 million of us won’t.

Think about that for a minute. More than 25 percent…more than one quarter…of all Americans will venture out…traveling hither and yon, risking exposure to the highly contagious and deadly virus…just to spend the holiday with family.

Just? I hear your objection and, perhaps, outrage at that depiction of familial connection. I agree. Family is extremely important. Blood really is thicker than water. But is it worth it to risk serious illness, even death, to spend a few days with relatives who are distant (not to mention distant relatives)?

We want to connect with our parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We surely do in normal times. These are not normal times. Is it too much to sacrifice a face-to-face holiday visit for one year, especially since online virtual visits have become so straightforward? Facetime, Zoom, whatever, is not the same, that is true. But this is certainly not the same old holiday season.

It is not too dramatic to say that holiday visits to grandparents or grandchildren could very well be the last time many of those 84.5 million travelers ever see those family members. COVID will see to that. Christmas Eve IMHE virus-impact projections are breathtaking. The respected Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington predicts more than 567,000 COVID deaths in the US by April 1st. That is approaching the number of soldiers, 600,000+, killed during the four year-long Civil War.

It has been been suggested that some people are risking holiday travel because they fear it, indeed, may be the last time they can hold their loved ones. That is an understandable fear. But it is a gamble that could exacerbate that fear and become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Throughout this pandemic, health care workers have rightfully been called heroes. The nurse in El Paso said “Don’t praise me, don’t call me a hero – none of that. Stay home.”

Have a safe, merry, and smarter Christmas…at home.

Published by J. Paul Hickey

Author, Bass Player, Retired National Correspondent for ABC News - 32 years with the network - Retired in 2012. Narrates Audiobooks. Volunteer at Fort Sumter National Park. Holder of two university Honorary Doctorate Degrees, Distinguished Eagle Scout, former SCUBA diver.

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