Friday lunch was turkey on rye bread thickly spread with cranberry sauce, cornbread stuffing, lettuce and mustard. It was my last little bit of the turkey we’d been eating all week. For seven days we dined on traditional turkey with all the fixings—dressing, parsnips, string beans, and gravy. One small turkey for two adults. Alternate choices were turkey vegetable soup and Thai style turkey curry over rice. In the year of the coronavirus, holiday or no holiday, we dine alone.
The numbers of infections in Anne Arundel County Maryland keep escalating. I put up a post on Facebook offering some statistics from one of our local hospitals and I don’t think anyone read it. Bad news is not welcome. The hard fast reality is that our local hospitals may have to start prioritizing patients. Two weeks ago, November 24, the two county hospitals, according to the Annapolis Capital Gazette, had filled 85% of their acute care beds with COVID-19 patients and 75% of their intensive care beds. The CDC however, recommends that hospital occupancy remain below 70% so as not to stress the system. That was more than two weeks ago and more and more people are being hospitalized.
Yet life goes on. Traditions are important. They provide a certain pattern for our lives. I consider what I’ll prepare for Hanukkah and Christmas. Now that there’s room in the refrigerator, I can buy a brisket and get more carrots and onions along with the ingredients for potato latkes and matzo ball soup. For Christmas dinner it would be nice to have a duck or a goose. Although I cannot stroll with friends singing Christmas carols, the tree in our living room is bedecked with lights and I can listen to “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” while wrapping gifts to mail.
Schedules provide structure, if only to keep me sane. I make a to-do-list each day and check things off as they get accomplished. At least two walks, to exercise our dog Chloe, and to stretch my legs and get fresh air is part of the routine. While my husband Peter is once again working from his office, I work from home. Each day includes some house cleaning duties: vacuum, dust, scrub—organize some wayward shelf or closet. It doesn’t matter what I put on my list— print out and file documents, write a press release or edit pages, do some bookkeeping—the list provides a sense of organization and accomplishment.
At this time, our local governments are strongly urging all residents to wear a face mask whenever they leave their home for any reason. Social distancing is also an important element of preventing the spread of the virus and I have noticed that when I’m taking a walk wearing a mask, others tend to get the message that I’m trying hard not to get or spread the coronavirus—even if they may themselves not have a mask on. They move away from me.
Do I need to wear a mask when I’m driving alone in the car, or walking early in the morning when there’s no one in sight? No, but I always keep one in my pocket.
About a decade ago, I stopped mailing out huge quantities of Christmas cards because more and more people were emailing their holiday greeting and many were using social media to create personalized cards and videos. This year with so much to be personally thankful for—the good health of my family and myself, a home, and a job—I’m thinking about returning to my old tradition if I can just find those physical addresses!
We need to get through the next few months, and by spring with the help of vaccines and consistent leadership from the top, we can start putting this nightmare behind us. But until then, it is keep wearing the masks and taking precautions to stay safe.