A Covid Christmas

It was supposed to be happy new memories, and big family dinners full of laughs. It was supposed to be surf, sun, and Santa. 

Instead, it was me, waking up with a scratchy throat three days before Christmas, a sinking feeling in my stomach as the take-home test showed a thick dark line: positive. My first thought was an expletive; my second was, “After almost two years of this stupid virus, and being so careful, I catch it just in time for Christmas?! Really?!” I am a fully vaccinated and boosted person, I wear my mask, and I try to be careful, so it was just crushing to test positive, knowing I did everything I could to avoid that outcome. Then there was the whole plot of Christmas; my family had so many plans, so many things to look forward to, and in the span of thirty seconds (my test results were extremely quick), all of that vanished. The guilt I felt was, if possible, twice as crushing as the result; I felt like I had ruined Christmas for my parents, and there was no safe way to fix it. 

As I was sending texts to friends and family that I had seen a few days before my symptoms, the guilt kept piling. What if they tested positive and their holidays were ruined? Are my grandparents okay? Is my newborn nephew okay? My parents continuously reminded me that this situation was entirely out of my control, therefore I couldn’t blame myself for it, and nobody else is. 

Thankfully (and I’ll admit a bit strangely), my entire family, and the friends I had hung out with, all tested negative. With that stress and guilt being lifted off my shoulders, there was nothing else to do but sit in my house, with a mask on, and watch time pass. To be fair, it’s better that this occurred in the Florida heat rather than the Boston sleet. I treated my more severe illness of boredom with time in the hot tub and trips in the golf cart, easy distractions from the circumstances I was in. 

By the time Christmas Eve rolled around, I had pretty much accepted my fate of a very small Christmas. That being said, when my parents and I sat down socially distanced for dinner, I couldn’t help but feel a little empty. I love my parents, and I love our dinners, but for me, big family holiday meals are a special and important part of the season, and to have that stripped away put a damper on the evening; it didn’t feel like Christmas. 

The next morning felt more familiar; though I still wore a mask for the whole thing, Michael Bublé’s Christmas album was on, there were cinnamon rolls in the oven, and there were presents under a decorated tree. ‘Twas a holly jolly Christmas.

My dad told me every day that it wasn’t my fault I got it, and that I shouldn’t feel how I was feeling; that Covid-19 gets who it wants, and there’s nothing any of us can do about it except stay vigilant with masks and update vaccinations. While this made me feel a bit better, it did get me thinking; why did I feel so guilty? The idea of ruining my family’s holidays was definitely part of it, but there was something else. 

Throughout this pandemic, we have been told to do our parts, wear masks, get vaccinated, etc. All of these things are important, but they are also introducing a personal responsibility aspect into the pandemic. In other words, if you’re like me and did all of those things and still got Covid-19, you’re likely to feel personal responsibility because that has been the rhetoric for the past two years. I didn’t think those slogans on social media and CDC messages would affect me, but subconciously, I think I began to build this narrative of guilt and self-blame. 

Throughout my entire quarantine, I kept trying to figure out where and when I contracted Covid-19. I had a rough timeline thanks to my symptoms, but, as I sit here now, I’ve come to the conclusion that it really doesn’t matter. While it would cure curiosity, it doesn’t make a difference in the fact that I had a Covid Christmas, and I made the most of it that I could. Besides, there’s always next year.

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