Noting that COVID-19 cases are surging in 37 states, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said we may want to rethink Thanksgiving. According to CBS news, Dr. Fauci stressed that the same protocols health officials have been advising for months — wash your hands frequently, socially distance, wear a mask, and avoid crowds, especially indoors—should have families thinking twice about gathering in person this year.
But Thanksgiving Is My Favorite Holiday!
“The emotional fall out is terrible,” says Dr. Margo Jacquot, Founder and Chief Care Officer at The Juniper Center. “It is going to be different and there’s nothing to be done about it. That’s what makes it hard,” she adds.
Some people will still convene in person. Others are more vulnerable. They can’t go and feel left out. “It’s important to acknowledge individual feelings about this,” advises Jacquot, “and to be very deliberate about being inclusive.”
Time for Gratitude and New Rituals
Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude and coming together. “This has been a hard year, one in which we’ve all been so disconnected, over politics, because of COVID, and so much going on in the world,” says Margo. “Who in our lives can we call or text to let them know how much we appreciate them?”
“It’s natural to feel a sense of grief and loss about what has changed,” adds Margo. However, “REFRAME is the name of the game this year. How can you look at this as an adventure and approach it with flexibility and agility, and create new rituals for your family?”
It’s Not About the Food (yes it is!)
Emily, who “claimed” Thanksgiving in her extended family over a decade ago, doesn’t want to give up on the tradition of a ritual family meal. “Since it will just be the three of us,” referring to her husband and son, “we may try experimental versions of things, like a French inspired ‘Flamousse of Pumpkin’ instead of pie.” Additionally, she and her sister have been getting into the spirit by telling stories of Thanksgivings past.
Maritza’s family is having a virtual Thanksgiving on the Saturday before. “With all the days blurring together anyway—we picked a time that worked best for everyone and decided to build excitement by doing it before the official holiday,” she says. While only immediate family will be together in person, “we’re still cooking enough for 20 and dropping off the extra meals to neighbors who might be alone.”
How will you plan for Thanksgiving?
If you plan dinner via video conference, how can it be set up so everyone can see each other? Make sure someone is dedicated to including those on Zoom. Can the person who will not be there in person pick up a plate or can you drop something off in advance? If a full virtual dinner sounds hard, what about a Zoom happy hour with appetizers or dessert after dinner?
Thanksgiving will be different this year. “This is lousy. It isn’t how we want it,” says Margo. Knowing that in advance, however, can help you plan. “Focus on what you can do and what you do have.” Be deliberate. Make suggestions. And don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
And don’t be afraid to honor your feelings and allow yourself to feel them, or ask for help if you need it.