Thanksgiving is now less than a week away, and I know that many people are questioning how (or if) they are going to celebrate the holiday. Along with Christmas, Thanksgiving tends to be a time of large family gatherings, often involving out-of-state travel for extended family members and college students. Due to the current increase of COVID-19 cases, along with the start of the cold and flu season, our typical family gatherings are a particularly high-risk activity this year.
While I understand how important holiday traditions are to many of us, I highly recommend canceling any large family gatherings this year in favor of celebrating with your immediate household. In fact, I’m begging you. Please don’t put yourself or your family in a position where you could be exposed (or expose an elderly or at-risk family member) to COVID.
I know that there are people across the country who are still denying that COVID-19 even exists, which may make it more difficult to explain your decision not to host (or attend) a large family celebration this year. But the truth is that COVID-19 does exist. I know it exists because I personally know people who have contracted it. It is a nasty virus, far worse than a case of the flu, and has killed over a quarter of a million people in the United States alone.
Wearing masks, social distancing, and washing your hands are the best weapons you have against this virus…but they’re not foolproof. Being a part of a large family gathering, traveling, or going to a crowded store on Black Friday are all activities that increase your chances of being exposed to the virus. If you do get COVID, you can transmit it to other people even if you never experience a single symptom yourself. So before you go to that holiday party, please take the time to think about the possible impact on your family and your community if it turns out that someone at your gathering was ill.
Just because you don’t have a large celebration, that doesn’t mean that Thanksgiving can’t be a lot of fun for your household. In fact, you might find that you enjoy having a more relaxed holiday with less family drama. If you feel like your household will miss out on spending time with extended family from out of town, or with a college student who doesn’t feel comfortable traveling back home, you can always set aside part of the day to video chat with them.
If you are currently trying to make a decision regarding your Thanksgiving plans, I highly recommend taking a little time to check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. The CDC has a lot of information about holiday gatherings, including recommendations regarding low-risk and high-risk activities, lists of people who should not attend holiday celebrations, and recommendations regarding travel safety.
I hope that you and your family have a safe, healthy holiday season!