Approach your Decisions with an Open Mind and an Open Heart. 


The idea of not seeing a loved one this holiday season or depriving your parents of a hug from their grandchildren can weigh heavily on your heart.  We’ve all mustered up enough resilience over the past 9 months to survive the onslaught of the pandemic, but now the holidays are here and we’re faced with making decisions on how to celebrate this special season which is synonymous with “family gatherings”. 

The reality is that every family is different in their thought process, how they make decisions, their tolerance for risk and how seriously the virus may affect them and those that live in their household.  And no one is wrong in their thinking.  It’s a matter of making a personal decision and taking into consideration both facts and feelings. 

You can arrive at a decision with your family on how the holidays can be celebrated with an open mind and an open heart. It is important to draw on empathy and respect everyone’s choices even if they conflict with your own.  Create a “judgement free zone” when communicating with your family. Everyone has the right to set their own risk boundaries.  Some people will choose to gather, some will not, and others will come up with creative ways to remain connected whether it be virtual or some other innovative way.  And come to an understanding that communication needs to be fluid and occur often as you will constantly be reevaluating as details and information regarding the virus changes. 

If you choose to gather, everyone has the responsibility of making the celebration safer.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the safest way to celebrate the holidays this year is with people in your own household.  If you plan to gather with people outside of your immediate household, please take the below steps to make your celebration safer. 

thanksgiving dinner turkey

Wear a mask

  • Wear a mask with two or more layers to stop the spread of the virus

  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin

  • Make sure the mask fits snugly against the side of your face

Stay at least 6 feet from others who do not live with you

  • Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus or flu 

  • Keeping 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick 

Wash your hands

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds 

  • Keep hand sanitizer with you and use it when you are unable to wash your hands 

  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol 

If you are Hosting a Holiday Gathering

  • Consider a small outdoor meal with family and friends.  Heat lamps can be used if the weather is chilly

  • Limit the number of guests

  • Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together 

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use 

  • If celebrating indoors, make sure windows are open 

  • Limit the number of people in food preparation areas 

  • If sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options like plastic utensils 

  • Have hand sanitizer in several locations 

  • Have extra masks in the event someone forgets theirs 

  • Limit the time of the celebration.  Do not have guests linger for hours

If you choose not to gather in person to celebrate, here are some ideas to create a connection: 

Host a virtual meal

  • Schedule time to share a meal together virtually 

  • Have people share recipes and show their turkey and their table filled with delicious food 

  • Take a moment and say a prayer together or have each person talk about what they are grateful for  

Have grandchildren or family members share a talent virtually

  • Sing a song 

  • Read a poem 

  • Do a magic trick 

  • Tell a joke 

  • Read a short story 

Host an online shopping event where everyone virtually shares their Black Friday deals and steals on Zoom.

Participate in a gratitude activity with family and friends.  Helping someone lonely or less fortunate is a great focus during the holiday season.

No matter what way you choose to celebrate, continue to have an open mind and an open heart.  Let empathy create a solid foundation for interactions with loved ones as you connect this holiday season.