When the Pandemic is Over, In-Person AND Zoom Should Be the Norm for Gatherings

By Rachel Puryear

This past weekend, my husband Kwame and I orchestrated a Zoomfest Thanksgiving get-together, in consideration of avoiding the possible spread of Covid amongst family members. Of course, we all missed the in-person aspect, but everyone understood the need to socially distance at this time, and it was still great to see folks.

Thanksgiving table decor.

There was also an unexpected upside – that meeting over Zoom allowed far more people to meet than would have been feasible in person, and in a single location. With different branches of our family spread out across several different geographical locations, it is incredibly rare that all of us are able to gather in person in the same place, at the same time. Furthermore, with my mom being mainly housebound, it is not feasible for her to travel to someone else’s house for a gathering, unfortunately. But meeting via Zoom allowed so many more of us to connect at the same time, than would have been likely or even feasible in person.

My favorite church has also been closed for in-person services since shelter-in-place, but has instead conducted worship services over Zoom since then. (This is the Jazz and Justice Church in Oakland, a non-denominational, progressive, welcoming church.) While I do miss the in-person services a great deal – especially the hugs and the amazing vibe of the place – I must say that it’s also a lot easier to make it to church regularly when I can do so from my bedroom.

We all of course hope that in 2021, we will be able to enjoy holiday gatherings in person without worrying about spreading a terrible disease to one another. But I would like to also keep the Zoom aspect – not instead of, but on top of in-person gatherings. It may not be feasible to gather everyone in person that we may all want to see on the holidays, but we can gather who we can in person and connect with many others more over Zoom. And while I look forward to the church opening and going back in person safely, I hope I can still attend via Zoom on the Sundays that I don’t feel like getting up and driving over to the East Bay.

I’m also hoping that a lot of employers will continue to allow more people to work from home, if they wish to do so. At least sometimes. It would be nice for everyone to have that choice. And it would also especially open up more economic and working opportunities for people with disabilities and medical conditions, people with young children, and people who live far away from job centers (or who want to).

Stay safe and healthy during this holiday season, my friends. xo

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