I took a trip to New York City this week from Los Angeles, and although it was a work trip I hoped that the cold weather and the promise of a holiday-decorated New York would put me in the Christmas state of mind. I also looked forward to seeing colleagues I hadn’t seen in person since the onset of the pandemic. This time of vaccinations and booster shots has created a sense of relief and hope. Although we can see that the pandemic is not over, we also know there are protections that were not available to us a year ago. We’ve been able to see our loved ones again, to socialize with friends, and to meet with colleagues, even if with some modifications.
There is, however, a downside to this. It is no secret that we are tired of the pandemic. In becoming reaccustomed to the freedom and flexibility of pre-pandemic life, we also run the risk of being less vigilant about the continued presence of COVID-19 and its variants. We also run the risk of being desensitized to the increasing number of deaths in the nation, which recently surpassed 800,000.
Walking through New York’s Bryant Park Christmas Market and seeing the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree put me in the holiday spirit, but nagging thoughts about the Omicron variant kept entering my head like an unwelcome guest determined to take away this cheer. You can do your best to enjoy a night out, but you can’t help but be suspicious of the people who surround you. Someone in the crowd might be unvaccinated or infected; the varying degree of mask use makes you wonder if you are safe. It makes it difficult to accept Advent’s invitation to trust.