Thanksgiving During a Pandemic

The holidays can be wonderful and also exhausting. They are a time for families to come together from near and far to celebrate their bond. But let’s be honest, sometimes holidays are stressful because we might not get along with everyone in our families.

Family doesn’t necessarily mean biological relation. It’s the people we feel like we can be ourselves with. The people we can speak to about our problems. At least, that’s what we think it should be. But family can be stressful. Usually they’re spread out across the state or country living in realities much different than hours. Having different view points on issues such as how to raise your kids, political stances, and different personalities can all make holidays stressful and at times uncomfortable. Everyone hopefully tries to get along, but there may be some tiptoeing around which can be awkward, or everything blows up which would be even more uncomfortable.

That dynamic is all in the past though. The year of 2020 and the pandemic means that families this year will not be traveling to each other and there probably won’t be large gatherings around a table to eat. The stressors are not about seeing people, they’re about not seeing people. People are stressed about keeping their friends and family safe during this time, which can put a hindrance on the celebratory time of the year.

This year will be quieter, smaller, and less involved. Families will be piecing together ways to see each other including smaller gatherings spread out over the week, video meets during meal times in order to see everyone, extra holiday cards and more.

So how do we deal with the feelings of missing our families? What should we be doing instead? How do we make the holidays feel normal in a time when it’s impossible to do so? Here are a few tips!

Five Tips for Thanksgiving during a Pandemic

Dine Virtually: The most popular option, schedule a zoom call or google meet with your family members all over. During the drinks and appetizers, or even during the meal. To make this extra special, try and broadcasts your family on a TV screen to make it a little more realistic that they’re there in the living room. Suggestions from the NY Times include Amazon Echo Show and Google Nest Hub Max.

Order and/or Send Food: It’s likely to be a smaller group so cut yourself some slack and see if your local restaurants are having Thanksgiving day specials. Another way to stay connected to your family is sending each other recipes, ingredients, or baked goods like cookies. If they’re local, make some of your dishes and drop off a portion at their house. They can even drop their own specialties off at yours. That way you’re all spending the holiday together eating the same meal.

Scale it Back: In the past, you may have made dishes you don’t even like, but it’s been a tradition, or it’s the only thing that someone else in the family really likes. Depending on the group you have this year, prioritize all the things you really like and don’t feel like you need to make so many sides this year. Not as many people to help with clean up or to take the leftovers home mean it’s all on you, so prepare smartly. You can also take this time to try out some new recipes with fewer people coming.

Celebrate Outside: If you live in a warmer climate, consider having your meal outside which would give people more room to remain socially distant. You can also have a few more people over if you’re able to follow the guidelines to remain safe. If you live in a colder climate, you could also consider a outdoor patio heater.

Ditch Tradition (Or Start New Ones): If you’ve got new recipes stacking up, dig one out and try it! Don’t feel tied down to the traditional foods of turkey and pumpkin pie. Choose the things you like, mix up the order and timing. Spend an hour or two volunteering as a small group/family. Watch a movie together or go for a walk. Start new traditions now and have a unique day as this is a unique year.

Whatever you choose to do, be safe above all else. It’s one year without tradition for the sake of everyone’s health. In it’s own way, it will be a year to remember.

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