November 20, 2020

Worth the Risk? A Very COVID-19 Thanksgiving

autumn leaves

I know a woman in her late 70s who has been living with a serious autoimmune disorder for decades. She was already about as immunocompromised as someone can be. On top of that, she recently completed a course of chemotherapy. Needless to say, her doctors have told her not to leave her home while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage. From what I have been able to gather, the expectation is that it would mean almost certain death if she were to catch it. Fortunately, she has been about as careful as anybody could be and has taken their warnings quite seriously. I was shocked to learn that this is about to change.

In a couple of days, this woman is going to climb into her car and drive from her home in the state where she resides a little over 10 hours away to the home of one of her sons and his family in a neighboring state. In doing so, she'll be defying recent travel restrictions announced (but not enforced) by both states. More importantly, she'll be putting herself and her family at great risk. She could easily contract COVID-19 along the way or once she is there, stuck indoors with other people who could have just as easily contracted it. Why is she doing this? You guessed it, Thanksgiving.

As you can probably tell, I find this maddening. When asked about why she was placing herself at risk, especially after having been so careful for so long, the response was exactly what I'm sure you expect it would be:

It's Thanksgiving
That was it. That was the entirety of the response. But she didn't have to say more because what she said speaks volumes. She's going because she's spent every Thanksgiving of her life with family. And she's doing that because, for her, that is what people do on Thanksgiving. And what the hell is wrong with her family that they would let this happen? You guessed it! It's Thanksgiving.

This is how adults of sound mind manage to believe in Jesus. They believe because they have always believed. They believe because everyone around them believes. They believe because that's what people do. At least, that's what good people do. Do some of them have at least some awareness of how silly these beliefs are? Probably, but they do not devote much effort thinking about this. In fact, most go out of their way to avoid thinking about it. It isn't surprising that, when pushed, this woman says, "Well, I'm going to try not think about that and focus on enjoying the holiday."

And now to answer the rhetorical question in the title of this post, no. No, it is not worth the risk. Thanksgiving is not worth dying for. This is one of the many problems I have with tradition and this warped perspective that we must conform to it.