A year ago, I wrote an article on what I wanted for Christmas: self-love and boundaries.
Twelve months later, I am now thinking: what a ride 2020 has been. I cannot believe that just a year ago I was speaking about self-love and boundaries, during a time of the year when human connection might be considered “too much” or overwhelming. During a time of the year when we sometimes have to say, “No” and revisit our priorities so we don’t burden ourselves.
If only I knew what we were getting ourselves into in 2020. This year, self-love and boundaries still need to be respected — but, in a different way.
As I write this, I see that there have been over 100,000 new cases of COVID-19 in the United States within the past 24 hours, and more than 1,000 people have died in this short period of time.
During this holiday season, my heart breaks into a million pieces for everyone who has lost a loved one; for everyone who will sit at their table and stare at an empty seat next to them.
More than 250,000 seats will be empty this year, and we still haven’t learned our lesson about empathy and respect.
We still prioritize family gatherings, trips, and social interactions when the world is falling apart. We blame the media for spreading fear. We make poor excuses so that our “freedoms” are justified, so we can go back to “normal.”
We do not respect those empty seats at the tables. We have no empathy for the millions of hearts who are grieving right now.
Our hearts don’t get tight by the numbers anymore, as deaths have become mere numbers.
My point isn’t to play the shaming game here. I, myself, have made mistakes during this pandemic, sometimes without even realizing it. We are all flawed and prone to make mistakes. But, I do want to believe that every human being has empathy in their core. I want to believe that we all want to give respect and be respected at the same time.
So, in the name of all the families with empty seats this year, I ask you to honor their losses by being more careful, by being and doing better. In their honor, please be more respectful when you think about gathering friends and family in the holidays.
I know it’s hard — we are all broken now.
But even if you decide to see someone, please consider being more careful. Consider wearing a mask, even at home, if you have someone over who doesn’t live in the same household. Consider fewer seats at your table this year, so that more seats can be there next year. Consider saying no to invitations for parties and events that you don’t really need to go to.
And, for the sake of all on this planet, do not downplay this virus. When you do, you hurt those who have lost a loved one or someone who is crying because someone they love is fighting for their life at a hospital.
This is not political, and this is not meant to play the “fear game.” This is a humble request for a change in our attitudes. This is a chance for all of us to unite and have the same goal: empathy and respect for one another.
I am not religious, but there is a quote from the bible that probably summarizes this situation well:
If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for this? Even tax collectors love their friends. ~ Mathew, 5:46
That quote makes me sad, because I have seen people (a lot of people) only take the virus seriously when it hits home. I still see trolls on social media complaining when governors reinforce the use of masks and restrict the number of gatherings, trying to keep everyone safe. “Stay out of my business,” they say.
Except that this is not your business anymore. This is everyone’s business. I am tired of explaining to people how we are all connected, how all of our actions right now during this pandemic are not about our loved ones only — they’re about everyone. Still many choose to ignore this wise piece of advice.
So, all I want for Christmas is for the world to care about one another—not only their loved ones. I want to see people walking extra miles to keep everyone safe, even if it means their “needs” won’t be met this year. Even if it means this holiday will be boring, lonely, or sad.
Instead of more “self-love” that meets only our expectations, let’s try to love everyone else as if they were family.
I want people to have more empathy and respect during this holiday season. I want them to understand that we are all connected, and while we might be all broken and lonely, we can still come together in a different way.
And together, we are stronger.