The pandemic delayed this reckoning with age, independence and moving away. After my brief entanglement with college campus freedom was snuffed out, I spent fall 2020 at home instead of at Cornell. I took prelims and attended club meetings while my childhood stuffed animals looked on curiously. I felt closed in by the pale green walls of my bedroom as 2020’s Thanksgiving break reverted to those of my grade school years in an anticlimactic fashion. A far cry from the packing and unpacking and repacking that has characterized this holiday break.
Recently, Pfizer announced that the company had ended its coronavirus vaccine trial with a 95 percent success rate. Moderna shortly followed with news that those who received two doses of the vaccine still had elevated levels of antibodies three months later. This is news that we have waited on for almost a year, and it is most certainly cause for hope and celebration –– we finally have the means to quell the virus that governs our lives.
However, that doesn’t mean that we can relax and resume our lives as usual. It’s dangerous to succumb to the boredom and agitation that makes us complacent and impulsive. We cannot forget that contracting the virus can mean life or death.
When the weather drops and the lights go up, it’s a sign that Christmas is around the corner. But those engaging in the holiday light tradition should worry about more than just watching where they step while scaling the roof to hang the season emblems. According to one Cornell researcher, many light sets contain high levels of lead.
Prof. Joseph Laquatra, design and environmental analysis, headed the study, which found that some lead levels in Christmas light sets exceed limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development on floors and windowsills.