Rocking Around the Christmas Tree, In a New Old-Fashioned Way

This Holiday Be Smart and Protect Your Loved Ones

woman with Christmas ornament wearing a mask

The holiday spirit is in the air — colder weather, Christmas lights and decorations in homes and on the streets, holiday music and movies playing all around us. If ever there was a time that people need the spirit of a holiday filled with peace and goodness, this year would be it.

Oh, how I wish the Grinch would come steal this COVID-19 pandemic away and I know I am not alone. This pandemic has had a profound impact on countless lives. According to a Pew Research Center survey, nearly nine-in-ten U.S. adults say their personal life has changed at least a little bit as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, with 44% saying their life has changed in a major way.

As health care professionals we have witnessed the worst of this illness. We have seen countless people lose their loved ones and others suffer severe health consequences. I have heard it over and over—people are tired of wearing a mask, social distancing and feeling as if they are not free to do as they want. As health care providers, we need everyone to continue to be diligent regarding these measures. We have to continue these efforts for a few more months until an effective vaccine is readily available and when enough people are vaccinated to stop the spread of this virus.

For this holiday, think of the song verse, “Rocking around the Christmas tree, have a happy holiday. Everyone dancing merrily, in a new old-fashioned way.” “In a new old-fashioned way” can be put into context with the struggles of COVID-19. As a physician, I know people want nothing more than to celebrate this season with loved ones and friends. No one is saying you cannot celebrate the holiday. What we ask is to celebrate it, but in a new old-fashioned way.

Search for the perfect gifts (online preferably), celebrate family time, cook meals, sing songs, decorate your home, and most importantly, remember the reason for the season. The old-fashion traditions and customs can remain, just be smart on how you fulfill them.

Now with potential drug treatments and vaccines, do not think COVID-19 precautions are no longer needed. Please do not stop following recommended guidelines. Texas Department of Emergency Management Chief W. Nim Kidd had a great analogy: just because seatbelts were invented, it doesn’t mean you get in the car and drive 100 miles an hour and be reckless behind the wheel. We have a light at the end of the tunnel, but don’t be reckless with your health and those around you.

This holiday, follow the guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

People with or exposed to COVID-19:

Do not host or participate in any in-person gatherings if you or anyone in your household:

  • Has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others
  • Has symptoms of COVID-19
  • Is waiting for COVID-19 viral test results
  • May have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • Is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19

In addition, if you are an older adult or person with certain medical conditions who is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, or if you live or work with someone at increased risk of severe illness, you should avoid in-person gatherings with people who do not live in your household.

Before you plan your holiday celebration, ask yourself, “Who do I want to see sitting across from me next year?” How will the choices you make this season affect your friends, family and this community? Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light. From now on your troubles will be out of sight.

Ronald L. Cook, D.O, is chair of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine’s Department of Family and Community Health. He also is the City of Lubbock Health Authority.

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