The holidays are fast approaching and many people have reservations about mass celebrations during the pandemic. Is it safe to go home and visit family? Can you invite relatives and friends to your house for the classic Thanksgiving meal? Health experts agree that it’s paramount to modify Thanksgiving and holiday plans this year to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, which is like the Grinch that stole the entire holiday season.
The COVID-19 pandemic has gone downhill, with cases rising as a result of super spreader events and loose rules on reopening in certain areas of the world. More than 235,000 Americans have died because of COVID-19, and many health experts attribute these high numbers to small gatherings with friends and relatives. That’s not good news for the traditional Thanksgiving meal that so many people look forward to all year long.
What’s The Solution?
Do you open all the windows in the house and invite a small amount of people to Thanksgiving? That doesn’t seem very fun considering that winter is upon us. And an outdoor, socially-distanced Thanksgiving gathering will freeze you to your core, unless you live somewhere warm, of course. Ultimately, we cannot give a one-size-fits-all recommendation for being safe and healthy. Thanksgiving will differ from person to person, family to family. Some people will purchase exhaust fans or portable air cleaners in an effort to keep the air clean and bring everyone together, but Thanksgiving safety is ultimately up to each family. We can only give suggestions to help make people safer this year. Those tips are detailed below.
Assess The Family’s Risk
How vulnerable are people in your family or social group? You need to determine how risky it is to gather with people before you even plan the Thanksgiving event. How are cases in your area? If you plan to invite guests, will they travel from COVID-19 epicenters or hot spots? Take these questions into consideration before you host a gathering that could put your entire family at risk.
How To Create Connection From A Distance
If each family decides to do Thanksgiving separately, you can still connect while apart. Consider a family Zoom call during the cooking process? How does Aunt Gina make her signature apple pie? Can grandpa Eugene give you his secret gravy recipe? Perhaps cousin Jerry can ease the tension and awkwardness with some jokes. While it won’t be the same, you can all cook together, eat together, and give thanks together because of technology. The beauty of virtual communication is that you can have Thanksgiving with relatives who you wouldn’t normally see!
Stay Home If You Don’t Feel Well
COVID-19 has already created sorrow and disappointment around the holiday season. Don’t contribute to the negativity or endanger your family/relatives if you feel ill. The last thing you want to do is turn your Thanksgiving dinner into a super spreader event, with you being the culprit. Take a test if you are concerned so that you can be sure if you have or don’t have the virus in your system.
Keep Gatherings Small
If you plan on hosting or attending a Thanksgiving gathering, make sure that there are no more than 10 people. If the gathering takes place outdoors, do not exceed 25 guests. If you are around friends or family from out of town, wear masks and socially distance during downtime. Just remember to take your mask off if you decide to sample some food; you don’t want to smear mashed potatoes across your mask.
Use Separate Utensils
Each guest, unless they are immediate family and living in the same household, should have separate serving and eating utensils. Thanksgiving is a holiday that involves a lot of high-touch items, including pitchers, spoons, wine bottles, cups, plates, and more. Wash your hands frequently and provide disposable paper towels in the bathroom so that guests don’t use the same hand towel.
It’s Okay To Say To No
Some family members or friends will insist on gathering or engaging in the typical Thanksgiving socialization. Others want to sit this year out and wait until things are safer for gatherings to take place. If you don’t want to go anywhere or host anyone who doesn’t live in your household, you don’t have to. It’s perfectly acceptable to say “no” to people who pressure you into having Thanksgiving dinner with them. If they love and respect you, they’ll accept your answer without judgment. Don’t feel pressured, especially if you feel that a Thanksgiving gathering will put you at risk.
Finally, keep in mind that it’s easy to forget about all the COVID-19 safety measures when family and friends are present. You’ve most likely suffered from pandemic fatigue and miss the company of family and friends. Don’t jeopardize your health by throwing all COVID-19 safety measures out the window.