Grinched

You know that White Christmas we all sing about? The one we really need for immediate ski resort economics and long-term drought issues? Well, it looks like Santa is going to deliver — right as people are trying to travel.

Every day I check the 10-day forecast from Wunderground, and then, just to make sure, The Weather Channel, and every day it’s like listening to the fisherman just that much more removed from his tale of the one that got away: the story is growing by inches every time.

Late last week, when we were at the edge of the 10-day forecast, the call was for a trace of snow on Thursday, a slightly measurable amount on Friday, which is Christmas Eve, and another trace on Saturday, Christmas. By the weekend the call was for roughly two inches each of those three days; as of this morning we are planning for inundation: 4.5 inches Thursday, 3.6 inches Friday, 2.3 inches Saturday.

No one seems to agree exactly what happens after that: a lot of models are still calling for a clear day for Sunday’s return trip home, but then the snow is alleged to be starting up once again Monday.

Now, I should note that Wunderground’s predictions are frequently nearly double what actually lands on the ground, at least here in Gunnison, while in ski inches I personally am probably well over six feet tall, much like that 9-inch rainbow trout that has already reached a foot-and-a-half in the retelling (and it’s catch and release, so no verification required), and all of this is in the future anyway, so who knows what is really likely to happen.

And none of it matters anyway, because our family’s Christmas got put on hold last night.

Now that Tia lives here in Gunnison, the family is about evenly split between here and Arvada, and two of the people at this end — Lynn and nephew Justin — have rather inflexible work schedules. Plus, Tia has a new house that Some Day will be completely finished, and she wanted to host everyone to help christen the new place.

So that was a great plan with plenty of buy-in when the days were sunny and unseasonably 50-60 degrees —

[Allow me to interrupt myself and remark on how soft we have all become in these recent thawing winters; this year, right on the heels of 60-degree days, the thermometer plummeted with our first snow, and we haven’t made it above freezing even during the warmest part of the day. This used to be no big deal, but so far this December, freezing means freezing, now that we’re a bunch of warmed-up softies.]

— and it was still a feasible plan, maybe, even with pending snow, although the Denver meteorologists have been calling for a foot or more “in the mountains” while sadly informing fellow Denverites that they’re not getting anything white and temps will remain in the 50s.

But then my sister Terri got a cold. And in this day and age of Pandemia, a cigar is not always a cigar, Dr. Freud, so she took a home rapid test for covid (negative) and scheduled a PCR test for today. But then she took a second home test last night.

It was positive. And now the lunch she had with a colleague who was supposedly post-covid but who failed to mention she still had active symptoms is looming large.

So far, Terri’s husband is negative, but niece Ellie, Tia’s daughter who lives in Terri and Michael’s basement, also turned up a faint positive line on a home test last night. I believe Ellie is going to go with Terri today to see if she can also get a PCR test, which hopefully in Denver returns a result a lot faster than the week we can wait here in Gunnison. My understanding, though, is that the home tests are quite reliable when they return positive results — it’s the negatives that can be suspect.

Both Ellie and Terri (and Michael) have received their third shot, although Terri, who had to wait many days to book an available slot, had only been boosted a day or two before what could have been a fateful lunch. She reported congestion and mild fatigue last night; Ellie was asymptomatic.

Tia’s in-laws have also had to revise their holiday plans, since Tia’s niece came home from college after close contact with a positive case. So far she is negative, but since she will still be in quarantine on Christmas, her grandma can’t join the family for the holiday.

There are so many things to digest that I’m not sure where to go. There’s Christmas adjustment and gathering postponement, but now stressing over the weather doesn’t seem like the issue it was just yesterday, but there’s also covid. Terri has been so, so careful throughout this, and would never have gone to lunch had her colleague bothered to think that maybe she shouldn’t be out running around with active symptoms.

I did see a headline today ominously warning that omicron is coming for us all, and after yesterday it’s really starting to feel like it. During yet another trip to the hospital to give them all my blood (nothing to be alarmed about, just a several-hundred-dollar check to get my thyroid back where it started), I ran into an old family friend, one around my mom’s age, who was there for his fourth x-ray to check on his covid-induced pneumonia.

He said he felt fine, other than his oxygen saturation wasn’t where it needs to be (hence the O2 he was carting around), and he suspected he caught his covid from either grandchildren or at a crowded late-season football game at Western. He was vaxxed and boosted, but he’s on a steroid that doctors think may have interfered with the effectiveness of his shots.

That’s several breakthrough cases (some ahead of omicron) that I heard about in one day, two of them in my own family. Positive news that is, in fact, quite negative.

I listened to Dr. Fauci this morning on CBS discuss the concept of mild cases — a nuance that I’m afraid escapes the 50 million vaccine-eligible Americans who “aren’t listening,” as newscaster Gayle King put it. As long as they’re out there, we’re all looking at management rather than solution.

So let’s be careful out there, as Sergeant Esterhaus used to advise on Hill Street Blues, whether you are gearing up for dashing through the snow or tucking in with family and friends you haven’t seen in awhile.

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