I am aware that there are two mindsets going on around this Thanksgiving: stay at home and don’t kill Grandma or take a risk to see Grandma before it’s too late.
For weeks, I teetered between the two mindsets before making the very difficult decision to travel to New York to see my family for the holiday break. If this offends you, by all means, click away and judge me from afar. When you walk in my shoes, you’ll then have the right to question my intuition and judgment, and whether I am enough of a responsible citizen.
If you are happy to let people make critical decisions for themselves without judgment, whether you personally agree or not, read on.
My children had not seen their father, grandmother or any of their family for almost a year, as many of us have been denied access to our loved ones over the course of this ridiculously tragic year. I completely have respect for those who choose to stay home and preserve safety. It’s smart and I support you.
However, at some point, as a mother, I personally had to weigh mental health against strictly physical, and this time, mental had to win out.
Anxiety and breakdowns necessitated a re-evaluation of our state of isolation. After careful planning, following every testing, quarantining, social distancing and other recommended guideline and rule, my children and I arrive safely from and into two barren airports, whose population combined didn’t match that of a grocery store at times. I felt safer there than when running general errands at home.
To further keep us safe, I drove us in my own car and paid a crazy amount to park at the airport instead of take an Uber or shuttle. My weekly-tested sister picked us up at the airport to bring us to her household of 4 (her, her son, my mom and other sister, who all have also sheltered in place aside from basic errands), where we will remain quarantined as a family to keep those outside of our household safe. And upon returning home, we will self-quarantine as well. We have no desire to put others at harm.
All the while, my 70-year-old mother with lung complications was fully on board with us taking the chance to see her, hug her, love on her and give us all precious memories that cannot be delivered on Zoom. Her emotions, and the physical comfort she gave and received, was worth it in all of our eyes.
Time is too precious, and so is life. And yes, we technically put lives at risk, but all precautions have led to several negative tests. In my eyes, the risk was no more so than our friendly neighbors who take that chance to get a gallon of milk after unknowingly getting exposed elsewhere.
So, that being said, I’m going to shift the focus of this blog to why this trip has been so very special.
1. My Son and his Nanny. I looked over to the couch to find my son and mother had fallen asleep on each other, peace on their faces and in their hearts. I took a picture of the sweet moment—the one both of them needed after a very difficult year.
2. My 5-year-old Godson. I snuggled him to sleep while he whispered how he loved me to the moon and to Saturn and to even Pluto. I woke up with his feet in my face and his head on my butt as a pillow, and I wouldn’t want to wake up any other way.
3. Loud Thunderstorms. I woke up in the middle of night to the sound of raging thunderstorms, which I do not get to experience in California. The sound brought my back to childhood where my own Nanny told me they were angels bowling, and I smiled as I listened to the precious booming.
4. Family Time. Nothing beats the joy of seeing all three kids with their grandmother baking homemade Christmas cookies while listening to music. Or watching them play a game with their aunts. Or discovering a brand new movie that was so adorable, we decided watching it together each year will become a new family tradition (FYI, Noelle on Disney Plus).
5. Laughter. There is joy in this quarantined house. Funny stories, sharing our lives, making memories. Seeing my sister dressed up in a turkey outfit. We didn’t need to venture out to see any tree or show or special event. All we needed was each other.
And that, my friends, is worth this risk to all of us. We don’t know what next Thanksgiving will bring, or who will still be around to share it with.
No matter what you do this holiday—whether you stay put and push through the heartache to ensure safety, or take that chance to see loved ones—do it as safely as possible, enjoy your day, count your blessings and remember what is most important: love.