Dear Annie: I have friends and family who have traveled for vacations during the COVID-19 pandemic. My husband and I have taken trips during the pandemic, too, but only road trips, and we stay at Airbnb rentals (by ourselves). Some of my relatives, meanwhile, went to Hawaii, justifying it as helping Hawaii's economy. Some have flown upwards of five times during the pandemic. Many even traveled during the holidays and got together with people outside their household for multiple days.
These friends and relatives are not anti-maskers. They proudly tout all the extra safety precautions they take when traveling, and they get tested beforehand. But my husband is sickened by their behavior, and he's begun opting out of our weekly family Zoom calls. He says he's lost all respect for them.
He's saddened by this situation and isn't enjoying himself. He feels very alone in his quest to do the right thing, surrounded by those who prioritize themselves over the safety of greater society.
I'm disappointed in their actions, too — but not enough to cut them out of my life.
When we've pressed these relatives about why they feel the need to travel and take unnecessary risks, they say that our vacations have been just as risky; flying is safe (this is a big one); it's their prerogative; and they're not endangering anyone. They feel as though my husband is harshly judging and shaming them. And to be honest, he is.
I'm trying to support all parties involved. I'll never force my husband to be friends with people whom he doesn't respect — but at the same time, I'm grieving the loss of the unity between everyone. Thankfully, we live far away from these friends and relatives, and they're not really part of our regular daily lives. But the family members are people I like to see two or three times a year — and I'd like to visit them with a happy husband! Do I have to give up that fantasy? — Dealing with the Fallout
Dear Dealing: Remind your husband that there are folks who have been even more careful than you have, people who have barely set foot outside their yard, let alone left their town. They might consider your road trips reckless. My point is COVID-shame not, lest ye be COVID-shamed.
Still, it's not surprising that many of us have been so quick to judge during a year that has been so turbulent. Judging others gives us a sense of control. Hopefully, as the pandemic recedes and life eventually returns to normal, your husband will let go of these resentments. In the meantime, continue to talk with these friends and family as you normally would, paying no mind to his crankiness.
Dear Annie: Your column caught my eye when you printed a prayer for Lent about fasting from negative emotions. While reading, I even got a sheet of paper and divided it in two columns: one with the negative behaviors (to fast from) and the other with the corresponding positive behavior. As I looked at the poem and wrote down the points, I thought it would be a good start for new year's resolutions (and can be used by everyone): "Say kind words; be thankful or filled with gratitude; be patient; be filled with hope," etc.
This past year has really been one of testing and has been hard on many people to have a positive attitude. I thank the Lord for watching over us. — Bonnie
Dear Bonnie: Happy to hear you liked the poem, and I appreciate your letter as a reminder to stop and count my blessings. The days I feel the least like making a gratitude list are the days I need it the most.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]
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