Giving Thanks at Home: Five tips for a Socially Distanced Thanksgiving
Most Americans, in the States and abroad, will be celebrating Thanksgiving from their own homes rather than those of their extended families this year. As such, follow below for five tips for a socially distanced Thanksgiving at home in 2020.
Eat Outdoors If Possible
Make the Thanksgiving holiday feel special and new, in a good way, by eating outdoors if the weather permits. For those celebrating in small apartments or houses, eating outside is a much better choice for the health of the owner/renter and the health of their guests. In fact, the American Center for Disease Control (CDC), recommends “having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community” to lower your risk.
For tips on hosting an outdoor Thanksgiving, look no further than Grace Dickinson’s article “How to host a safe outdoor Thanksgiving (and decide if you should)” for The Inquirer. Though outdoor celebrations pose a lower risk than indoor ones, Dickinson follows the lead of the CDC and the state health departments, recommending that “residents not hold holiday gatherings with anyone outside their household.”
Support Children By Creating New Traditions
This year’s Thanksgiving holiday will be without many of its typical trappings. To avoid your own disappointment and help children handle theirs, Dr. Amy Adolfo Signore and Dr. Emily Wakefield of Connecticut’s Children recommend letting little things go and focusing on the big picture. In their article “How to Help Kids Handle Holiday Disappointment During COVID-19” for Connecticut’s Children, Wakefield and Signore suggest directing your attention towards what you can do this season rather than on what you cannot. The two doctors outline how to best celebrate with children of each age group.
For the youngest children, infant through toddler age, “keep things very simple for children this age in terms of celebrations and explanations.” For kids between four and six years old, “establish new traditions within your immediate family” and avoid punishing “children for having a negative reaction to holiday changes this year.” After all, each of us is struggling to deal with this new normal. For children aged six to twelve, parents should “validate their feelings of disappointment and sadness about changes to their holiday traditions.” They should also ask “them for their ideas about how to make the holiday special” and give them the opportunity to outline new traditions. Teenagers might be the most disappointed this season, as they will be unable to gather with friends and have likely been unable to do so much of the year. As such, be sure to check in with teens, asking how they feel about the smaller holiday indoors without emphasising the pandemic too much. Wherever you can, the doctors recommend offering “perspective on the situation by looking at the big picture” and allowing them “a sense of control by giving them choices.”
For children of all ages, Wakefield and Signore emphasise how important it is that they feel cared for this holiday season. As such, parents should not be afraid to “indulge kids with affection” this Thanksgiving.
Revel in the Fact You Can Do What You Love This Year!
An intimate Thanksgiving at home, whether with others like a partner, children or parents or on your own, means you have more say in how the holiday is celebrated. You can choose the parts of the holiday you love best, while setting aside those you have least preferred over the years. Perhaps you enjoy baking desserts but hate cooking a turkey, so you order in dinner this year! Or maybe you love watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving but cannot stand football -- so you switch the program and prepare for the beloved cartoon. A small solo Thanksgiving, or minimalist family holiday, allows each person to have a bit more say in how each tradition is expressed.
Jennifer Poindexter outlines this newfound and unprecedented holiday freedom in her article “8 Delightful Ways to Have a Thanksgiving When You Are Alone” for Morning Chores. Poindexter writes of those staying in this year: "If we want to sleep in, we can. If we want to eat an early or late lunch, guess what? We can! If we want to do Thanksgiving dinner, we can!” The options are endless! However, if you find yourself missing Thanksgivings of yore, call up family and friends to reminisce. Poindexter suggests “using modern technology to your favour, and plan[ning] on Skyping or Face Timing with loved ones that you aren’t able to be with though you really wish you could be.”
Educate All Guests On What To Expect
If you do choose to have guests over for the holiday, such as parents, parents-in-law or siblings, outside your household, be sure to ask each person what their personal health and safety requirements are. Also be sure to outline what you expect of each visitor and make your terms for staying in your home clear. In her article “How to Host a Safe Outdoor Thanksgiving” for The Inquirer, Grace Dickinson notes that joining friends or family for the holiday is “a personal decision, and there are risk-versus-benefit calculations that people have to make.” However, Dickinson cautions, all guests should follow at least bare minimum safety protocols, “maintaining distance, wearing masks, and limiting the number of people.”
You can also require that any prospective guests arriving from out of the area, from another city, county or state, especially those arriving by plane, self-quarantine for a time. Dickinson notes you might wish to ask your guests to “limit unnecessary contact with strangers for 14 days” or other more intense requirements. However, you should do your best to keep the lines of communication open and foster a “dialogue that weighs everyone’s comfort levels surrounding risk.”
Invite Anyone And Everyone - Over Zoom
While physical separation might be recommended by the majority of national and local health departments, you can still get together with family - virtually! In their article “Creative ways to celebrate the upcoming Holidays during the COVID-19 Pandemic”, first released during the Easter, Ramadan and Passover holidays, celebrating all the upcoming holidays while respecting social distancing and self-quarantining regulations is recommended. AFTH recommends still allocating jobs to different family members, even if you are separated by distance and brought together by a screen.
The article encourages families to “organise who will take on which roles” during the holidays and give specific times to loved ones who wish to “share stories...with one another over Zoom in the spirit of the holiday.” Grandparents can teach their grandchildren to bake or cook family recipes over video chat. No matter where you are or what your traditions may be, you can still gather with family and friends via Zoom. Begin planning your get together soon and be sure to incorporate holiday décor and table settings from Ebony Home for a special, intimate 2020 holiday season.
We wish you a very happy Thanksgiving holiday at home this year!