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Celebrating a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving During COVID-19

November 19, 2020
Celebrating a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving During COVID-19

The current spike in local, statewide and national cases of COVID-19 comes at an unfortunate time as we head into the holidays. The increased urgency for social distancing, wearing masks in public, limiting group gatherings and other precautionary measures can naturally leave many wondering how they can appropriately and safely enjoy the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, with their family and loved ones.

“As with many activities, the safest way for families to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to do so only with those who live within their own household,” says Nathan Wiedemann, MD, a primary care physician with TriHealth’s Queen City Physicians – Western Ridge. “However, there are some who will be celebrating with others from outside of their household. In those cases, it is very important for them to take every precaution to help limit the spread of the virus during their celebrations.”

For those who are celebrating Thanksgiving with people outside of their household, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) offers the following recommendations for keeping your Thanksgiving safer.

  • Limit the number of guests
  • Eat outdoors, if possible, and open windows if eating indoors
  • Wear a mask and safely store it when you are eating or drinking
  • Stay at least six feet from others who do not live with you
  • Wash your hands frequently or keep hand sanitizer available when you are not able to do so
  • Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups and utensils
  • Avoid going in and out of areas where food is being prepared
  • Use single-use options such as condiment and dressing packets, plates and utensils
  • If serving shared food, have one person serve using single-use options, rather than passing around objects like bowls and spoons

Dr. Wiedemann urges another important step for those who will be celebrating with those from outside of their home, especially for the hosts.

“It’s really important that your families and loved ones communicate prior to the celebration,” Dr. Wiedemann says. “Set expectations and make sure everybody understands them and is prepared to meet them. Having everybody on same page can help them relax and enjoy the company, rather than adjusting to the expectations and concerns of others.”

For those who are not celebrating with family and loved ones from outside of their household, Dr. Wiedemann recommends other creative ways to safely stay in touch and celebrate with others.

“One thing we’ve learned this year is how to adapt and stay safely engaged with the people in our lives, including friends, family, colleagues and classmates,” Dr. Wiedemann says. “Thanksgiving and other holidays can be a great time to creatively put some of those practices to use and stay close to the people that mean the most to us, even if it’s virtual.”

Alternate ideas from the CDC for traditional Thanksgiving activities include:

  • Schedule a time to share a meal virtually, perhaps using shared recipes and menus.
  • Take advantage of the downtime with those in your household to play a game or take in traditional Thanksgiving viewing such as sports, holiday movies or parades.
  • Replace the crowds of shopping to prepare for Thanksgiving or the usual post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping with online options, including those with delivery or curbside pickup.
  • Safely prepare traditional dishes and deliver them without contact to neighbors or friends who are not able to prepare or share a meal.
  • Take a moment during these challenging times to consider those things in your life for which you are grateful. Write them down to share with family and friends.

While taking extra precautions and being apart of loved ones with whom you usually celebrate may be a temporary inconvenience, Dr. Wiedemann says it is especially important right now to be diligent.

“Frustration over disruptions to our holiday traditions can certainly be expected,” Dr. Wiedemann says. “But it’s important to remember that we may be protecting some of those that we are missing. However, finding ways to celebrate and take the time to reflect on what is good in our lives is important to overall wellbeing, so finding the safest way for you and your family connect and enjoy the holiday is important.”