I know that all of our Canadian readers have already made their family time sacrifices and celebrated Thanksgiving as safely as possible, but now it’s America’s turn.
I’ll be honest. Thanksgiving has never been my favorite holiday, so it’s not one that I will miss this year. However, I know that’s not the case for so many of you guys, and I can absolutely empathize!
While there were plenty of ways to still have a fun, safe, and semi-social Halloween, Thanksgiving is inherently a little trickier. Unfortunately, it will probably require you to forego some of the family time you’re used to, but remember that it’s just one year!
There’s no way around the fact that it’s just not safe to gather extended family indoors this year. After all, you wouldn’t want to pass along the virus to any of your at-risk elderly family members!
But before you cancel Thanksgiving outright, let’s talk about the steps we can take to minimize COVID transmission, how we can adjust our expectations, and try to make the holiday as safe and joy-filled as possible.
While it may not be safe to gather extended family indoors this year, we can adjust our expectations and try to make Thanksgiving as safe and joy-filled as possible.
1. Think About Prep Time
It’s easy to forget that you can get tested and then self-quarantine for the required 10 to 14 days prior to seeing any family or friends that aren’t in your quarantine pod.
This year, if you plan to see family members or friends that you don’t live with, plan to get tested early and then limit your outside exposure until it’s time to travel.
Also, keep in mind that if you’ll be around any high-risk loved ones, you should be sure to get the gold standard “shove-a-swab-into-your-brain-through-your-nose” test rather than the less accurate rapid test. Those results take a bit longer to get back, but they’re much more reliable!
2. Have a Visit Without the Meal
This option isn’t ideal either, but if your choices are to safely have a short visit with family members or share a meal and possibly coronavirus, we all know which option to go for.
If you want to have a short, indoor visit with loved ones, be sure that everyone will be following masking, distancing, and handwashing guidelines to stay safe. Experts say that short visits (like 90 minutes or less) pose less risk, and if everyone is using the recommended precautions, there is a relatively low risk of virus transmission.
So, you might not get your great-aunt’s sweet potato casserole this year, but if you get to spend a little time with her, then that’s what really matters, right?
Short visits (like 90 minutes or less) pose less risk, and if everyone is using the recommended precautions, there is a relatively low risk of virus transmission.
3. Take It Outside
Depending on where you live, you might be able to move your gathering outdoors. You might consider even moving the celebration date up if you see that the weather is supposed to be favorable earlier in the month.
Smaller outdoor gatherings are much less risky than indoor ones, and it’s even possible to safely share a meal (as long as you follow CDC guidelines!)
If you choose to do this, you should definitely make sure everyone has been tested and has been taking precautions before attending. Don’t feel guilty about asking guests to get tested, wash their hands, or have their temperatures checked before they take off their masks to eat!
4. Make It Virtual
Zoom and FaceTime aren’t replacements for in-person celebrations, but they are safe and fun options. You can cook a smaller Thanksgiving meal for yourself and your quarantine fam while drinking and chatting with the family members you would normally be hanging out with, and you can even coordinate so that you’re cooking the same dishes together!
Sharing recipes, cooking mishaps, and the final results virtually can help you feel less isolated.
5. Cook to Give Back
Maybe you don’t have a quarantine fam, and maybe you can’t risk seeing loved ones like you normally would. That would make Thanksgiving a hard day, and I can totally understand how that would be disheartening.
If that’s the situation you’re in, my heart goes out to you! It’s okay to feel sad, angry, or anything else you might be feeling, but I also have a suggestion that might help you refocus some of those tough emotions: Can you connect with others who are isolated too?
Do you have elderly neighbors? At-risk coworkers? Acquaintances who can’t make it to their own families? If so, consider taking on a project that will brighten your day and theirs!
According to the CDC, the risk of transmitting COVID-19 through handling or consuming cooked food is very low, so as long as you follow safety precautions (no taste-testing the gravy!), you could put together take-out Thanksgiving trays for others who are alone.
As long as you follow COVID safety precautions (no taste-testing the gravy!), you could put together take-out Thanksgiving trays for others who are alone.
If you want to do this, be sure to ask ahead of time and let them know you’ll do contactless delivery. You can even make cute little handwritten notes or cards to tape to the container.
This might not work for everyone, but I know that focusing on the needs of others is a great way for me to shake myself out of my own negative emotions.
Let’s Find Reasons to Be Thankful
I know it’s a little hokey to say that we should all “be thankful for our health!” or other generic platitudes. It’s crappy that we can’t celebrate the holidays like we want to, but it’s important not to lose sight of why we’re making these sacrifices now!
Thanksgiving might not look like it usually does, but we can still find ways to spread love and joy without spreading COVID!