Keeping Thanksgiving Safe During the Pandemic

COVID-19 has altered so much of our day-to-day lives, we barely blinked at all the candy chutes this Halloween, if we even noticed. Or maybe we did a stay-home Halloween. We've modified our routines, switched to working from home, and learned to help our kids through a Zoom call. And here we are, sliding into the holidays as new lockdowns are being implemented and restrictions tighten again for much of the country. But we know that if we are careful, actually let's call it care-full, we can help save lives by creating a holiday that respects the situation. Here are some ideas.


Considering Thanksgiving Options During COVID-19

Compromising on Thanksgiving doesn’t have to mean giving up everything that makes it great. Consider meeting with family and friends virtually. Plan a cooking event where instead of eating together, you all Zoom in and everyone cooks and drums up some festive spirits from kitchens all over the country. Then have a little home gathering with people in your immediate family, filled as you please with family spirit but safe. 

Some will be planning a gathering outdoors, using appropriate heating options to keep everyone warm. With lap blankets and some carefully placed heaters or a fire pit, this might be the coziest Thanksgiving you've ever known. Think hot toddies or warm cider and maybe even roasted marshmallows. Remember to mask up and keep your distance though.

If you must host an indoor gathering, all guests should quarantine for two weeks prior and then get tested before attendance. Remember that if one person spreads Covid in the group it won't stay inside the group. It will seep out into the communities of everyone and make others sick who didn't go to the gathering. Our actions in this impact hundreds of lives.

If you must gather, consider just getting together for dessert or appetizers this year and doing so outside in a safely distanced way. 

High-risk people and their immediate households might want to only attend virtually this year, just to keep the holiday extra safe.


Keep Track of the Time

Some researchers have stressed the importance of minimizing exposure time around other people to reduce the possibility of transmission. This doesn't mean that an indoor gathering is safe if limited in time. But it does mean that even outdoor gatherings should be limited in time and scope. Plan a Thanksgiving that’s short but sweet. If someone there does happen to be contagious, they may be less likely to spread the virus to everyone else and this may help save lives.


Limit Group Sizes

The CDC doesn’t have a specific restriction set for the number of participants for holiday gatherings, but it does advise people to keep group sizes small enough so that everyone attending can stay safely distanced. Remember, the more attendees, the higher the chances that someone there could be carrying and spreading the virus. Consider scaling down the guestlist for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner or see if your loved ones might be willing to plan multiple smaller events. Try a family parade of cars going past the grandparent's house with waving and cheering instead of stopping to hug and greet. An hour on Zoom or Facetime can be just the thing to keep everyone safe and connected at the same time. 

Take someone a fresh coffee or a piece of pie and leave it with a nice note. Or maybe send flowers to let them know you're thinking of them and to support a small business at the same time. 

Celebrate Within Social Bubbles

In a PBS NewsHour report, epidemiologist Melissa Hawkins explains that staying restricted to social bubbles is a great way to keep regular interaction with less worry. Everyone in the social bubble agrees only to interact with other people in the same small group, but every person in that bubble only gets to be in that bubble. People in thebubble should not agree to be in the bubble of other friends as this defeats the entire purpose of bubbles. To keep everyone in the bubble safe, each person also agrees to quarantine and get tested if there’s any possibility they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and also if they have any symptoms.


Don't Travel

Traveling during the pandemic is a gamble at best and it putsother communities and families at risk. The act of travel itself can force exposure between people in too many ways, increasing the chances of someone picking up COVID-19 on their way to Thanksgiving festivities and also risking them spreading any particles they may have across a larger area potentially infecting many others on the way. All the precautions in the world aren’t going to protect poeple from getting sick if people are coming in from all over the country.


Keep a Healthy Perspective

Outlook can make a big difference in how an event plays out, both for ourselves and the people around us. Good attitudes mean good times. We can get through this stressful time, but only with each other’s strength, positivity and support. Now is the time to raise one another up and to focus on the positives and way that we are still able togather. Aren't we lucky to have technology that lets us connect despite a pandemic? People in 1918 had no such thing and we can imagine their despair and loneliness was much more acute. Keep a healthy attitude about whatever disappointments or roadblocks might come up so others might follow your lead. We can show one anotherhow to get through in a happy and healthy way that keeps everyone safe and well while also reveling in our traditions.

Maybe we can even start a new tradition that we can tell the next generation came form this time and now we treasure the feeling of safety and comfort we drew from getting through this time.

Remember that 2020’s festivities might not be what they've been in previous years, and that’s okay. Thanksgiving is what we make of it, so regardless of how we have to adapt, we can still find ways to keep it fun and make happy new memories. Get creative, start brainstorming with loved ones and get planning—that's half the fun anyway.

Copyright 2020, Wellness.com

11/18/2020 8:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
Wellness Exists to Empower Health Conscious Consumers. Wellness.com helps people live healthier, happier and more successful lives by connecting them with the best health, wellness and lifestyle information and resources on the web.
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