Loving your family and protecting them go together like turkey and gravy. In fact there’s probably nothing you wouldn’t do to save a loved one’s life.
This holiday season, with COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations spiking at concerning levels, families are being asked to make hard decisions about get-togethers which are known to spread coronavirus. In fact, gathering can put the very people whose company you cherish at risk.
But with some careful consideration and creative thinking, you can still share holiday spirit this season. In fact, some types of gatherings are still okay. The Centers for Disease Control identified these levels of risk:
- Lowest risk: Virtual-only activities, events, and gatherings.
- More risk: Smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear masks, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
- Higher risk: Medium-sized in-person gatherings that are adapted to allow individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and with attendees coming from outside the local area.
- Highest risk: Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.
If you cannot gather in the traditional sense this year, you still have several creative virtual and in-person options to connect with family. Some alternatives to consider:
Gather for a meal online. Share cherished family recipes ahead of time and show off homemade dishes while catching up on family news. If the big game is a tradition, have a watch party and cheer the team together on social media. The upside? Bad weather won’t mess up your plans, but do make sure your devices and Internet are up to the task.
Use a fun prompt to get the family talking on a social media platform or group text. Ask for a favorite family vacation memory, best dad joke or funny holiday mishap.
You may not be able to gather around Scrabble at the kitchen table, but you can play virtually. Many popular board games now have virtual counterparts on tablets, smart phones, game consoles, and computer that can be played with your loved ones no matter where you are. You can even create a team tournament or trivia night.
Stage a Show
Have family members record a talent - a song, a joke, skit or dance routine. Share the videos over Zoom or a social media platform and enjoy them together virtually.
Trim a Tree
Surprise grandma by trimming an outdoor tree or decorating her yard while social distancing and wearing masks to keep everyone safe.
Get the cousins together, at six feet of distance, and enjoy an afternoon of sledding. Have everyone bring their own hot chocolate and treats.
Take the money you would have spent traveling and, as a family, pick a charity or worthy cause. Have each family member share what they’re grateful for this season.
This holiday season may be different but it can still be fun, and the sacrifices you make now will help ensure every place at your table is full next year.
(J’Patrick Fahn, DO, is the director of hospital medicine and critical care at CHI St. Alexius Health. He works closely with the COVID-19 Incident Command team at CHI St. Alexius Health to monitor and adjust operations as needed through the pandemic.)