Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Harriette Urges Readers To Stay Apart This Christmas

DEAR READERS: Merry Christmas! Happy holidays! (Belated) happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! All love to you and your families.

What a strange time we are experiencing right now. Normally millions of Americans would be traveling to be with family and loved ones. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, more people travel than at any other time of year. This is in part because our culture has become more diverse geographically. Our children go away to school and often stay where they were educated. Family members join the military and travel the world while being posted at different ports of call. Our jobs take us to spots all over the country -- and beyond.

But no matter where we live, most of us act like homing pigeons during the holidays: We make the trek home. We long to be with our loved ones and reserve time on our calendars and dollars in our wallets to make it happen.

And then came COVID-19. If we are following directions today, most of us are not spending time with our families the way we did last year. Even if most family members live in the same town, the advice is NOT to gather in large groups, and even when in small groups to gather wearing masks.

This is tough. For many of us, it has been months since we have been able to be in the company of our parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins and dear friends. We ache at not being able to have that connection. And yet, the discipline of following directions during this time may save thousands of lives.

My mother is 91 years old, now in an assisted-living facility. All I want to do is go to be with her, to hug her and to comfort her as she comforts me. I cannot. My niece has a new baby whom I have only met on a videoconference. This is far from normal.

I share this because I know you have your own stories of longing and tenderness as you think about how you will spend your holiday. Do what you can to share your love with the people who matter most. But also remember to be smart, disciplined and patient.

At this point, most of us have been directly touched by COVID-19. When someone you love falls ill or even dies from this disease, your eyes open wider and you see how real and deadly it is. We are not invincible or immune to illness. But we can be smart. In this season of gratitude and generosity, let us give the gift of patience and groundedness to ourselves and one another. Let’s use technology to keep connected to those we love.

The greatest, most precious gift we can give to each other is a chance at good health. I pray that we put politics aside and embrace the science that tells us that staying distant will keep us safest. Let us love each other such that we will live another day. Let us thank God for the opportunity to share joy in this moment. Let us be creative in our celebrations so that we come together, even though it’s from a distance. We can do this. We must. God bless you all.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)