Governor Kristi Noem is trying to spin the CDC’s really good advice to stay home for Thanksgiving as part of a nefarious plot by the media to destroy Christianity:
Thanksgiving is around the corner, and across the country families are planning how to celebrate with their loved-ones in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some states across the country are imposing restrictions on Thanksgiving celebrations. Some in the media are even looking ahead and planning to cancel Christmas. In South Dakota, we won’t stop or discourage you from thanking God and spending time together this Thanksgiving [Gov. Kristi Noem, weekly propaganda column, 2020.11.20].
Stop, stop, stop—no one in the media or the CDC or anywhere else is saying that fighting the pandemic requires that we “cancel Christmas” or stop “thanking God.” You can thank God Thursday and every day, if that’s your thing, without putting anyone, yourself or people you love or people you don’t love, at increased risk of coronavirus. Household transmission is a big deal in this pandemic; not crowding into a household for five hours with people you haven’t seen for a year is an obvious and easy precaution you can take to keep your home folks and your community from seeing more coronavirus infections and deaths. Heck, without Uncle Jimmy bawling in your ear about Trump over green-bean casserole, you could spend the whole afternoon quietly thanking God or Allah or the Force or whatever mystical powers you prefer.
And I haven’t heard any talking heads or epidemiologists say that stopping coronavirus means canceling Christmas. Dr. Anthony Fauci has already cleared Santa Claus to fly, saying he’s got a remarkable (and, alas, not bottle-able) “innate immunity.” Christmas lights and inflatables are already festooning yards around Aberdeen. Americans are still planning to send all sorts of Christmas love and loot to each other, and we can do so in ways that don’t spread coronavirus.
This holiday season, we should cancel our traditional in-person parties. The very love that we create these holidays to celebrate commands that we do so, to protect each other from sickness and death. But canceling a Thanksgiving gathering does not cancel your ability to thank your gods (and contrary to Governor Noem’s official statement, her people thank many gods other than her God). Canceling the office Christmas party or even the in-person Christmas Eve church service doesn’t cancel Christmas. Staying home this year and sending our love from afar simply keeps more of us alive to send more love and enjoy more holidays.
Stay home on Thanksgiving. Call the people you love. Stay home Friday, too—skip the shopping, even online, and stay home, rest, and enjoy your own turkey sandwich. Plan on Christmas at home, too, but do all you can to fill the hearts of those around you—via safe, socially distant methods—with Christmas joy and gratitude.
See, Kristi? It’s not either/or. You can celebrate the holidays and fight the pandemic.
And telling people to stay home for Thanksgiving and Christmas isn’t an attack on your Christianity. Quite the contrary: preaching pandemic safety should be a natural expression of your professed Christian love for life.