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Hunkering down for the holidays

It’s not quite two weeks to Thanksgiving here in the United States (November 26 this year). And just six weeks — exactly — to Christmas Day.

Times when The Legal Genealogist traditionally gets together in joy with as many members of the family as it’s possible to gather together.

It’s not possible, these days, to get us all together. With eight siblings scattered from the far west to the northeast, nieces and nephews and the grands literally all over the world (a nephew and his family in Tasmania, Australia…), it’d take a major miracle to get every one of us in the same place at the same time.

And — sigh — it has taken a major catastrophe — this crazy pandemic — to ensure that none of us will be outside of our immediate families (our “pods” in today’s parlance) for the holidays in 2020.

It isn’t just that case numbers are going up all over the country. In my town, for example, our mayor reported yesterday that we had 166 confirmed cases in the previous four days. That compares to 160 for the entire month of September. But — sigh — there are still those who try to argue that increased case numbers just reflect increase testing.1

But the two metrics that can’t be argued away are the increased numbers of people being hospitalized for COVID-19, including more children2 — and the continually escalating number of deaths. As of this morning, the United States stands at 244,366 deaths, and that number has been rising by 1,000 or more a day for some time.3

This is, of course, exactly the same thing that happened 100 years ago, with the Spanish flu pandemic. A first wave that subsided and people thought things were safe — and then a second wave that was the most deadly of the three from 1918-1919.4 And though better understanding of this virus and some new treatments offer some hope that this second wave won’t be as bad as that one, the risk is still enormous.

And so, with regret, my family has made the hard decision.

hard decision

The hardest one of all, so far, here in 2020.

We’ve decided to hunker down for the holidays this year.

Oh, sure, online shopping and home delivery will make it possible to have our feasts and exchange our gifts. Technology will make it possible for us to see each other’s faces, to hear each other’s voices.

Nothing, of course, will quite make up for the missed hugs.

Except for one thing.

The understanding that giving up this one holiday season together helps ensure all those holiday seasons in the future — together.

With no missing faces at the tables of years to come.

It’s hard. Oh so hard. I hate missing out on these family events with a passion.

But I would hate — so much more — that someone I love might suffer because of something foolish we as a family did.

Of you, my genealogical family, I ask only one thing: stay safe.

Wash your hands. Stay home when you can; social distance when you can’t. Wear a mask.

Let’s do our part to make sure we’re all here for all those holiday seasons to come.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “2020’s hardest decision,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 14 Nov 2020).


  1. You know who these folks are. You don’t need me to cite this.
  2. See “Severe Disease: Hospitalizations and Deaths,” COVIDView, Centers for Disease Control ( : accessed 14 Nov 2020) (“Since the week ending September 26 (MMWR week 39), overall weekly hospitalization rates have increased. … Weekly hospitalization rates among children have had a two-week sustained increase from October 24 (MMWR week 43) to November 7 (MMWR week 45)”).
  3. See Coronavirus Resource Center, Johns Hopkins University ( : accessed 14 Nov 2020).
  4. See “1918 Pandemic Influenza: Three Waves,” Centers for Disease Control ( : accessed 14 Nov 2020).
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