I canceled my decade long tradition of traveling to see family for the holidays. Please join me

COVID-19 is not under control in Colorado. We need to stay at home this holiday season to do our part to stop viral spread and save lives.

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Danny Katz
Executive Director

Author: Danny Katz

Executive Director

(303) 573-7474 ext. 303

Started on staff: 2001
B.A., University of Virginia

Danny directs the operations of CoPIRG and is a leading voice in Denver and across the state to improve transit, stop identity theft, increase consumer protections, and get big money out of our elections. Danny has spearheaded efforts to electrify Colorado’s transportation systems, and co-authored a groundbreaking report on the state’s transit, walking and biking needs over the next 25 years. Danny also serves on the Colorado Department of Transportation's Efficiency and Accountability Committee and Transit and Rail Advisory Committee, and is a founding member of the Financial Equity Coalition, a collection of public, private, and nonprofit organizations committed to bringing financial security to communities throughout Colorado. He resides in Denver with his family, where he enjoys biking and skiing, the neighborhood food scene and raising chickens.

Anyone who knows me knows I love routine. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch every day for 20 years. I read every night before bed no matter how tired I am and I would order from the same five restaurants the rest of my life if my wife would let me. 

My love of routine extends to traditions and there is no time of the year when I have more time-honored traditions than the holiday season. 

But this year, to save lives and to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control sooner, canceling my family’s decade-long tradition of leaving Colorado during the holidays was the right thing to do. When we called our loved ones to tell them we weren’t coming to visit, it was heartbreaking. 

A decade of family, food and festivities

My family has gone to San Francisco to visit my wife’s family every holiday season for a decade. 

Our trip isn’t just about seeing family. It’s about carrying on traditions. I love what we do every year when we’re there -- you could set your watch to it. For example:

  • We host a Hanukkah party and pack dozens of people into the house and I’m the latke maker (picture pounds of potatoes and onions fried in oil). I stand by the pan for an hour frying away. It may take three days of showers to get the smell off my skin, but it’s worth it (even my wife who has to deal with the fried potato odor emanating from me agrees).
  • Every year we get an order of crabs, freshly caught that day, and serve it with a pool of butter. Everyone makes fun of me because I spend 30 minutes cracking the shells and pulling out the meat before I take a taste. But once I have a heaping pile of meat, I eat until my blood begins to coagulate from all the butter. 
  • Christmas Eve is the same every year -- dim sum in downtown San Francisco. 
  • Christmas Day is always the same -- a trip to the movie theater and then dinner at The Old Clam House, one of San Francisco’s oldest eateries. 
  • We always drive by “that house” to see the incredible lights display (every city has one). This one has toy trains carrying gifts, huge presents hung from trees and a giant teddy bear.
  • My daughter loves the ocean, so we always take a trip to the beach to see sea stars and anemones and then head down the coast to meet one of our oldest friends and her boys at the Monterey Bay Sea Aquarium. 

But it’s not just the big things I’ll miss. Every year, we get a free calendar from the local grocery store featuring photos of the neighborhood, which we hang in our kitchen year-round. I’ll miss catching up with loved ones as we trudge, out of breath, up and down hills and through beautiful gardens -- a welcome break from a Colorado winter. 

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Frying Latkes (Photo by Danny Katz)

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Dinner at the Old Clam House (Photo by Danny Katz)

 

Canceling this trip and missing out on all these amazing traditions, people and food sucks. There’s no other way to say it. 

I’ve had plenty of moments where I figured out how we could make it work. We’re cautious people, I think, who have mostly stayed at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. We could drive out to San Francisco with limited stops and only eat food we pack. I tell myself, with masks and hand sanitizer, we could probably get there without catching the coronavirus.

But that’s not how COVID works. When it’s racing uncontrolled through Colorado or California or any of the states in between, I can’t guarantee I can keep my family safe. And that’s assuming we don’t already have it and wind up spreading it to another family. 

One scary part of this pandemic is the different ways COVID-19 impacts people. Some people in the same family have mild symptoms while others end up in the ICU. 

It’s also scary that some people have COVID-19 but don’t have symptoms. In fact, anywhere between 40 to 50 percent of people who catch the virus are asymptomatic and could unknowingly spread the virus to lots of people.  

Given how much we’re seeing community spread right now, every stop on our road trip is risky. It’s not worth endangering my family or endangering someone else’s. 

Lose one year of traditions so we can have many more

We have to play the long game. It’s about ensuring my daughter has lots more visits to San Francisco to visit her grandparents, not just one last visit to see them. 

Staying at home and changing traditions so people do not gather breaks the chain of transmission. It starves the virus of its opportunity to spread.

It’s about giving our public health and medical communities the breathing room they need to get this virus under control, so we can save the maximum number of lives between now and when the vast majority of us have been vaccinated.

Right now, in the middle of the holidays, the COVID-19 pandemic is out of control. Whether the numbers improve or the overall trend heads in a better or worse direction, we’re already way past where we need to be.

If we travel and gather and celebrate the holidays the way we always have, more people will die unnecessarily. 

I’m going to miss San Francisco this year and the crab and the beach and the traditions and family. But I’m going to make this sacrifice to help ensure everyone in my family and everyone we would have come into contact with has the chance to have a lot more holidays in the future. 

This world is an amazing place full of people I love, food I long for and merriment to be had. It is worth making this sacrifice. 

Please join me. 

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Christmas Eve dim sum
Danny Katz
Executive Director

Author: Danny Katz

Executive Director

(303) 573-7474 ext. 303

Started on staff: 2001
B.A., University of Virginia

Danny directs the operations of CoPIRG and is a leading voice in Denver and across the state to improve transit, stop identity theft, increase consumer protections, and get big money out of our elections. Danny has spearheaded efforts to electrify Colorado’s transportation systems, and co-authored a groundbreaking report on the state’s transit, walking and biking needs over the next 25 years. Danny also serves on the Colorado Department of Transportation's Efficiency and Accountability Committee and Transit and Rail Advisory Committee, and is a founding member of the Financial Equity Coalition, a collection of public, private, and nonprofit organizations committed to bringing financial security to communities throughout Colorado. He resides in Denver with his family, where he enjoys biking and skiing, the neighborhood food scene and raising chickens.