Is it acceptable to ban anti-vaxxers from your family Christmas plans? Melanie McDonagh and Linda Kelsey debate the issue
Linda Kelsey (op die foto) has no qualms about excluding those who ‘selfishly failed to get jabbed’ from her Christmas plans
By Linda Kelsey
Kersfees may be the season of peace and goodwill, but there are limits. When it comes to anti-vaxxers, I would have no qualms about excluding them from the celebrations.
In my household, the big feast takes place on Christmas Eve. I spend three days getting everything ready and feed up to 20 mense, from toddlers to 80-somethings. Close and extended family and any friends who would otherwise be solo are invited. Met ander woorde, I’m a pretty generous hostess, even willing to host vegetarians and vegans who shun my lovely moist turkey. But there’s no place for anti-vaxxers.
The ‘rest of us’ includes several people in their 60s and 70s. I’m clinically very vulnerable, as is my 80-year-old pal who has kidney disease. I’d be mortified if one of my guests gave her Covid because he or she had selfishly failed to get jabbed.
It’s not that I’m averse to all risk. Despite the ominous-sounding Omicron, I’m determined to make this a magical Christmas after last year’s paltry affair.
The small kids aren’t vaxxed, and there’s always a chance that someone will be harbouring the virus as a result of socialising in the run-up to the holidays, but I’m not going to ban my partner’s little grandson or my great-niece and great-nephew from the house. I just don’t want anyone who doesn’t take Covid seriously sitting at my table and souring the celebrations.
For one couple I know, this has turned into a Christmas nightmare.
They have two adult children and four grandchildren. Their daughter is a nurse who has worked on Covid wards and seen, on a daily basis, the devastation that Covid can bring. The son is an anti-vaxxer who loves to spout conspiracy theories and his wife has demonstrated against vaccinations outside her own children’s school.
‘They’re not bad people,’ my friend told me, ‘and I love my son, despite his incomprehensible views. But my daughter refuses to speak to him, so it was either cancel Christmas or make a choice.
‘I’ve had to tell him he can’t come on Christmas Day, and we’ll meet him and the kids in the park on Boxing Day and hand over the presents then. It makes me really sad.’
In my eyes, anti-vaxxers are not just selfish but irresponsible and stupid. In a free country, they are entitled to think what they like — just don’t expect me to pull a cracker in their company.
Melanie McDonagh (op die foto) says exclusion is ‘not in the spirit of the day or the season’
Deur Melanie McDonagh
Would I turn someone away from a Christmas gathering because they were unvaccinated? Would I hell. Op Kersfees, no one is turned away from my table. It’s not in the spirit of the day or the season. All are welcome.
I have one good friend in my home town who isn’t vaccinated; she’s a refusenik and elderly — in her 70s. She has held out against all the exhortations of the Government and the advice of her family. But she is also an intelligent woman who doesn’t care to be bullied or coerced. I’m going to be inviting her for Christmas lunch this year.
My mother died of Parkinson’s disease two years ago; she was vulnerable. But would I have kept my friend at a distance to safeguard my mother if she were still here?
Geen. If they shared a Christmas lunch, I would have kept the windows open — like a sanatorium, as my mother used to complain — and probably killed us with pneumonia. And I would have distanced my friend at the other end of the table from my mother, with my vaccinated children in between. But my friend would still have been welcome.
My cousin in Ireland has a son, my godson, who has an autoimmune disease. Laas jaar, when her daughter came from London to spend Christmas with the family, she kept her son at a distance during quarantine. They ate Christmas lunch in separate rooms. But were still under the same roof. There is one thing we could do with close family, and that’s ask them to take a Covid test.
Geen, I wouldn’t do it with my friend — she’d be insulted. But I would certainly make sure my family takes a lateral flow test before we have her round. We should do our best not to put her at risk, ook.
Covid kills. It killed my father-in-law, who probably contracted the virus, despite all his precautions, from a family member who was neither careful nor jabbed; it was an awful loss.
I do not take the risk of infection lightly. But if we are mindful of the risks and take precautions to space the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, it should still be possible to keep Christmas as it should be kept, with all comers round the table.
The tradition of Christmas hospitality is fundamental to the season and I won’t compromise on it.