Creating New Thanksgiving Traditions during the Pandemic

November 05, 2020

Creating New Thanksgiving Traditions during the Pandemic

Traditionally Thanksgiving is one of the biggest holidays of the year.  More people travel during Thanksgiving week than any other holiday of the year.  Well this year has changed everything.  How we live is different than last year.  We still can have a wonderful thankful Thanksgiving, but doing it with thought and intelligence is important in this pandemic year.

Even if you're only making a small Thanksgiving dinner at home, that doesn't mean it needs to be any less special.

It’s important that you acknowledge that this year is going to be different than any previous years.  We have to go with the flow of life.  You may be use to large family gatherings or spending time away from home.  Do not feel pressured now that things have changed.  You can still have an uplifting and wonderful time for this holiday.

So many people feel burnt out and one of the main things I suggest is trying to think of this holiday as a break from all pressures.  That will give you the time to truly be thankful.

Ask yourself what is the most important thing for you and your family at Thanksgiving.  This could mean special recipes.  Maybe it’s time to eliminate certain activities you never enjoyed to begin with.  Perhaps you don’t like Turkey or cranberry sauce.  You can always switch to a different menu.  This is a year to break old traditions.

Think about what you really want to eat and what everybody enjoys and choose that.  Even if it’s something you buy from the market or a restaurant.  If it makes your life easier then go for it.

It’s time to think about what is most important in your life and assess its value for Thanksgiving.  I am posting a list of activities that you can choose from based on the risk involved of contacting COVID-19.

Here's how the Center for Disease Control assesses the risk level for Thanksgiving activities:

Lower Risk:

  • A small dinner with the people in your household
  • A virtual dinner with family and friends
  • Preparing food for family and neighbors (especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 who are social distancing), and delivering it to them without person-to-person contact
  • Shopping online rather than in person on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • Watching sports events, parades and movies at home

Moderate Risk Activities:

  • A small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people are taking COVID-19 safety precautions like using hand sanitizer, wearing masks and maintaining social distance
  • Small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place

Higher Risk Activities:

  • Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on or after Thanksgiving
  • Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race
  • Attending crowded parades
  • Using alcohol or drugs
  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household
  • While suggestions from the CDC like limiting your guest list and avoiding big outdoor events (the 2020 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is going to be virtual anyway) may seem reasonable, do people really need to eat holiday dinner over Zoom and skip out on the Black Friday deals in stores?

There are reasons to be cautious.  The indoor multi-generational gatherings you're used to hosting for Thanksgiving are much riskier than the socially-distanced backyard gatherings many people held over the summer.

Many of our Thanksgiving meals revolve around buffet-style servings that everyone digs into. But more hands on serving ware means more germs. (Remember to frequently wash your hands!) Instead, pick a designated person or “head chef” to serve up turkey and sides onto individual plates instead of everyone passing around that green bean casserole.

There are some real things to be aware of when it comes to gathering with extended family, The gatherings we hold in November are going to be almost entirely indoors. Thanksgiving may involve people staying overnight in close quarters. if you’re going to be involved in multi-generational family gatherings or spending time with anyone who is at an increased risk for COVID-19 you need to exercise caution and good old common sense. 

Is it OK to hug? How many people can come? How to navigate holiday gatherings?

If you are in an intergenerational situation, wear masks to the extent you can. The lowest level of risk is limiting your gathering to the unit you're sheltering with already. Thanksgiving is not the time to expand your circle.

It’s important to take precautions to protect those in your group who may be at a greater risk for the coronavirus. Talk to your family and friends about the measures they've been taking to mitigate their risk. Additionally, keep in mind that some people may not be able to socially distance or quarantine as much as others.

Once again think carefully about how you want to do Thanksgiving.  There’s nothing wrong with changing the tradition this year. It will be the start of cold and flu season. It really is a dangerous time of year with respect to respiratory illness.

The main thing is to give thanks for everything that you have and those that you love and those who have passed on.

Feeling Stressed? Contact me if you need relaxation and coping techniques now and in the future.

May you and your family be blessed now and always,
Cherokee Billie

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