I write this at my dining room table, a custom built 8-foot, 250+ pound, white oak farm table, so new the clear coat has not cured yet. It arrived only two weeks ago, just in time for a Thanksgiving feast that will not happen.
For years, I hosted ‘Wayfarers Thanksgiving’, a dinner party for ‘orphans’, for those of us who left our places of origin for opportunities in the Twin Cities and had no family to spend the holiday with. I was in a one-bedroom apartment with a view of an alley and no dining room table. We packed in the living room around a coffee table and sat on paisley mustard pillows suitable for outdoor furniture.
I have my first home now, a condo with a fireplace, and a dining room big enough to host such a party. But there is no party, only dinner for two in the sunroom. I cannot risk COVID-19. It’s not for my sake, but for all the vulnerable adults in my life. I would survive but I cannot risk spreading it first, second, or third hand to others. I know everyone is sick of hearing about it, but COVID-19 isn’t over just because you’re bored with it.
The current death rate of COVID-19 is measured at about .6% which on paper doesn’t sound like a lot but if every American gets the disease, that’s 2 million dead people. If everyone in the world gets it, that’s 47 million dead people. When numbers get big enough, they cease to have real meaning because we cannot wrap our minds around it.
Selfish people have said “if you’re afraid then stay home”, as they walk around without a mask or consideration of physical distance. These folks weren’t washing their hands before the pandemic which is why you should never take the mints out of the cut glass candy dish at the local restaurant.
There is pee on them.
I do stay home, as well as many other white-collar workers, because I can. And so does our money, effecting the hidden economy of white collar lunches, coffee breaks, catered meetings, business clothing, make-up, deliveries, office supplies, cleaning staff, plumbers, bus drivers, etc. I have been told to expect to work from home until at least June 30, 2021.
The cost is not only in loss of life but also in loss of confidence in public health safety.
People are losing their jobs. Business survives on the steady exchange of goods and services, both big and many small transactions. I don’t need the bus anymore and because of that, neither the bus driver nor I need the coffee shop in the morning. How then does the bus driver or the barista pay rent? In an age of unbridled consumerism, how exactly are we expected to consume without a way to make cash?
All because people refuse to wear a mask.
I am a diner and a coffee fiend. I go to bars and attend live performances. I am a traveler. But I no longer venture out because others do not take it seriously. I leave my home only for neighborhood walks, for a ride in the car, or to make the monthly trip to the store for our household needs.
I am still a patron of take out restaurants and donate to fundraisers. I try to ensure the places I love will still be here next year. I think of the small-town bar shuffleboard table that is free to use, but you pay for the electronic scoreboard. No, the scoreboard isn’t necessary, but it is the only thing paying for the upkeep of the table. So, you pay your 50-cents to keep it going. Yes, you can cook at home and entertainment is free online, but if you care to keep the in-person experience alive…
Seriously, how much are you enjoying being at home these days?
My new farm table seats ten and even though there are only two of us in our household, we are of those who host dinner parties, writers’ events, and practice several creative arts that require layout space. A large solid table is required to accommodate all of that (with a deep red carpet underneath to absorb the wine).
And we drink wine from all corners of the globe. I pause in wonder of that fact. Inside my body is the water and grapes and sunshine from the southern tip of Africa, the Andes mountains of South America, from down under in Australia, across the pond in Europe, and even beyond the Rocky Mountains on the western Pacific coast.
What is this life that I have?
I have so much to be grateful for: my job, my home, my health. In this 21st century middle class American life, I am richer than most people who have ever lived, including the kings of old. As a country, we have been given access to the world’s banquet to such a degree that the gift of an orange on Christmas day has completely lost its meaning.
Thanksgiving was never really about the meal. It’s about coming together in gratitude, to celebrate the harvest, celebrate our blessings. My current concerns over Thanksgiving dinner is whether to have lamb or crab legs, not whether I am going to eat at all that day.
Many have lost perspective. Too often there is resentment over having to sit at the table with an annoying uncle for an hour. A heavy burden to stuff your face, I suppose. And in this pandemic year, many feel if we don’t get together it will hurt grandma’s feelings.
But do you know what will hurt even worse? If grandma is dead by Christmas because your family refused to break your Thanksgiving holiday tradition.
Stay home this year. Wear a damn mask.
-Copyright C.M.Mounts, November 2020