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How will you handle family gatherings for Thanksgiving/Christmas with Covid?


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So unfortunate that this isn't available everywhere 😢

I don't know. How to handle family events is becoming an ever bigger source of stress for me. As some of you may remember, my DH has stage IV cancer. He only has one kidney. He has other more minor (a

We have decided that he is 20, and he won't be coming home for 6 weeks for much longer.  I think we would regret saving the money. We bought this ticket in FEBRUARY. So we already own it, but he can't

9 minutes ago, Seasider too said:

Just curious, where are you going for tests? Your personal physician, the health department, local urgent care sites? 

Local health department has a ton of locations here and they're fast and free.

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18 hours ago, Garga said:

It’s going to be a problem in my family this year.  There are those of us who are strong proponents for masking and social distancing, and those of us who aren’t. 

We are a family of 11 people total.  So, if just one family unit (4 people) doesn’t show for Tgiving or Christmas, it’s a big hole in the family.  

 

Has anyone thought ahead about how to handle the holidays this year? 50/50 chance that it’ll be prohibitively cold at Thanksgiving to eat outdoors and 99.999% chance it’ll be too cold at Christmas.

 

I can’t think of any other way to handle it than saying, “We’re not coming,” and then dealing with tears and a depressed MIL who adores being with the family at the holidays and doesn’t quite understand why we’re taking Covid so seriously.  😞

Same here, plus we have college kids/young adults living in hot spot university towns. Several work in jobs that require a lot of public interaction, plus several have high risk factors. 

Any option that makes me feel safe is going to make me the bad guy.  I've thought about suggesting a large building my husband has access and setting up tables to eat by family group, but even that has its risks.

 

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5 hours ago, AmandaVT said:

As a teacher working in a face to face district this year, I'll be the one everyone should stay away from.  We've been getting the last of our friend/family visits finished before I start on Tuesday and then I'll move back to seeing only DH and DS in person. I'm resigned to not seeing my family in RI until summer. 😞 

Ditto!  I just told a friend that teachers were going to be on everyone's Do Not Invite list this year. Although in my region, the risk of contact is significantly higher from college students than in the school districts.

I did get an invite for a get together tonight, and since it's outside and spread out I'll be going. I just got my classes settled in and if I have close contact with a positive case I'm stuck quarantining at home for 14 days. Stressful!

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18 hours ago, Garga said:

It’s going to be a problem in my family this year.  There are those of us who are strong proponents for masking and social distancing, and those of us who aren’t. 

We are a family of 11 people total.  So, if just one family unit (4 people) doesn’t show for Tgiving or Christmas, it’s a big hole in the family.  

 

Has anyone thought ahead about how to handle the holidays this year? 50/50 chance that it’ll be prohibitively cold at Thanksgiving to eat outdoors and 99.999% chance it’ll be too cold at Christmas.

 

I can’t think of any other way to handle it than saying, “We’re not coming,” and then dealing with tears and a depressed MIL who adores being with the family at the holidays and doesn’t quite understand why we’re taking Covid so seriously.  😞


We are driving to see family and will spend one night in a hotel to get there. My sister will have a newborn so it’s important for us to go. We will quarantine before leaving and we will see fewer than 10 people while there, all elderly relatives who are retired and mostly home bound. I don’t expect to have any problems with our mask use since our family members are also cautious. ETA: we may try to test before we start seeing people.

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My mom will come visit over the holidays, which isn’t an issue as she has already visited during the last few months.  After my dad passed, I don’t want her alone for the holidays.  
DH’s family is another story.  We usually get together for a few days at his parent’s house.  15 people total.  One of his brothers and his parents are more concerned with Covid than we are.  Given that his parents are not in great health, everyone except the other brother who lives near them would probably stay home.  But his dad is getting to the latter stages of Parkinson’s.  He’s not on hospice yet, but after losing my dad to the same disease, plus a concerning hospitalization in July, it’s very, very likely that this is his last Christmas.  So we will probably go.  5 of the 7 grandkids haven’t seen him in more than 6 months.  I think everyone needs that special time together this year, Covid or not.

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We always do Christmas by ourselves, so not an issue.

Thanksgiving at my cousin's is a thing. IDK. Folks on that side tend to have public-facing jobs (sales, retail, local government, etc.). We did not get official confirmation that we've had it or have antibodies (yet I'm still coughing--will be six months this week, currently waiting on allergy test results). I think video calls would be my preference, but we're what, 11 weeks out? I just don't know yet. Also DS can't eat quite a bit of the food, so, like, making a chicken and vegetables at home is the easy way out for me.

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Presuming conditions are the same or worse by then...

We won't be going to any indoor family gatherings. My main idea is that for "my" traditional events that I host, I'm planning on cooking and preparing "to go" platters of the traditional items. We can drop them at doorsteps and maybe have a little outdoor visit at each home. Or possibly I could drop the meals in time for at the usual holiday meal, and then zoom eating "together". We might also zoom a gift opening or something like that.

I'm considering the possibility of hosting outdoor visits on my screened porch with heaters -- for, like, one household's visitors at a time: not a whole gathering. Maybe I could decorate the space. I've heard of "progressive dinners" that seem vaguely like something that could be re-vamped for small visits and outdoor spaces.

 

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We'll probably do Zoom for the actual dinner, the way we did for Easter, and my BIL and SIL will probably get together with my parents. I am back teaching, and while I don't see many students in person, I don't want to risk exposing my mom or SIL, who both have autoimmune issues. 

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2 hours ago, bolt. said:

Presuming conditions are the same or worse by then...

We won't be going to any indoor family gatherings. My main idea is that for "my" traditional events that I host, I'm planning on cooking and preparing "to go" platters of the traditional items. We can drop them at doorsteps and maybe have a little outdoor visit at each home. Or possibly I could drop the meals in time for at the usual holiday meal, and then zoom eating "together". We might also zoom a gift opening or something like that.

I'm considering the possibility of hosting outdoor visits on my screened porch with heaters -- for, like, one household's visitors at a time: not a whole gathering. Maybe I could decorate the space. I've heard of "progressive dinners" that seem vaguely like something that could be re-vamped for small visits and outdoor spaces.

 

This is such a nice idea! 

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honestly, haven't even thought about it because I was blindly assuming things would be "back to normal" and of course they aren't "back to normal."

We've got one in medical field, one in college, two in on-line college, one in military, one in front line grocery store. Plus 8 others, give or take. That's just my kids and their spouses and a few grandchildren. I'm guessing at this point military will not be traveling and who knows what will happen with the medical field. I don't really want to share my family with other families (in-laws) this year (so much contact!). 

Whatever we decide, it seems like as a "single" parent now, things are definitely going to be different. 

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Oh man, we're just trying to figure out Halloween if trick or treating is cancelled.  

But for thanksgiving and christmas I imagine we will still see our siblings, parents, and their families but will skip the huge extended family gatherings that equals seeing over 100 people in a two day time period.

We're already not socially distancing with siblings, parents, nieces, and nephews so the only difference will be seeing both sides of the family one day apart.  I would 100% be up for asking everyone to quarantine for 14 days prior to christmas celebrations if that meant a single uncomfortable person would choose to attend.  And our families are really understanding and accommodating enough to happily quarantine if it meant everyone would join us in celebrating.

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4 hours ago, bolt. said:

I'm considering the possibility of hosting outdoor visits on my screened porch with heaters

 

Do you have outdoor heater suggestions? We’re planning outdoor visits only for the holidays, which will mean coats and warm clothes at Christmas. Heaters would make it nicer, though. We have a covered area to use. I don’t know how Thanksgiving will go. I don’t anticipate doing an outdoor meal; I don’t think anyone would be comfortable with that. I think that’s more likely to be just our family, and we will drop food by for my parents at some point and zoom. Christmas I think we can have a family get together outdoors to open presents. 

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1 minute ago, kand said:

Do you have outdoor heater suggestions? We’re planning outdoor visits only for the holidays, which will mean coats and warm clothes at Christmas. Heaters would make it nicer, though. We have a covered area to use. I don’t know how Thanksgiving will go. I don’t anticipate doing an outdoor meal; I don’t think anyone would be comfortable with that. I think that’s more likely to be just our family, and we will drop food by for my parents at some point and zoom. Christmas I think we can have a family get together outdoors to open presents. 

Costco sells some great propane based ones....not appropriate for an indoor/outdoor deck, but for a fully outdoor backyard experience, they're lovely. They haven't come in stock for fall yet, but.... https://www.costco.com/fire-sense-patio-heater.product.100296466.html

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I've been wondering the same thing.  I have been keeping us away from my folks all year long.  My mom is not happy about this.  My dad tends to agree with me, but he is the one who gets sad when Thanksgiving isn't the usual family gathering.

I am thinking maybe we stop by for pie, provided nobody has any "symptoms."  At least one of my sisters will almost certainly spend the day there helping with the cooking, so they won't be completely alone.  The rest of us could probably try dropping by at different times.

Honestly ... I miss my mom!  I miss just sitting in a chair blabbing about the minutiae of life.  She probably misses it too.  😞

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Our Covid numbers here are and have been very low all along (3 active cases right now in nursing homes). We will get together with my parents and brothers family. But we share daycare at my moms and the kids have been together all summer anyways. 11 people total. 2 teachers and a nurse who will all be working. No travel involved- we can walk to each other’s houses.

But again, low numbers right now at least.

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5 hours ago, SKL said:

I've been wondering the same thing.  I have been keeping us away from my folks all year long.  My mom is not happy about this.  My dad tends to agree with me, but he is the one who gets sad when Thanksgiving isn't the usual family gathering.

I am thinking maybe we stop by for pie, provided nobody has any "symptoms."  At least one of my sisters will almost certainly spend the day there helping with the cooking, so they won't be completely alone.  The rest of us could probably try dropping by at different times.

Honestly ... I miss my mom!  I miss just sitting in a chair blabbing about the minutiae of life.  She probably misses it too.  😞

Do they live close by?  Could you do an outside visit or even a window visit?

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I don’t post on the boards much anymore, but I am thankful for this thread.  It opened the door to a good conversation with dh. It’s all his family, as I have virtually none. I don’t feel safe about family gatherings at all.  He is going to make a solo driving trip to see his mom in a couple of weeks.  That will check off his box of spending time with her.  He has said he would see his sister but no extended family at all.  Holidays will have to be a wait and see approach.  

One thing I have let go of is my feeling responsible for getting ds to see his grandmother.  He is a grown man, and he can choose to make that happen or not.  It is not my responsibility to move heaven and earth to make the holidays what my mil wants them to be.  They simply can’t be business as usual this year. People need to recognize that. I may wind up looking like the “bad guy” that someone referenced upthread by not going with him to visit or by not coordinating an effort to get ds and myself to see her over the holidays.  So be it. 

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We'll offer Thanksgiving and Christmas here as always. We never go anywhere as we have livestock. Middle dd lives here, but she'll split the time with us and bf's family as they already do. Youngest will be home a week before T'giving as her school is shutting down. I doubt the military kids will be able to travel. The ship that is supposed to relieve LCDR is the one that burned. And right now, the LT is not allowed to travel at all. Our Christmas won't happen on the day as the musicians and the military kids will be playing something, somewhere, and the mil kids will probably have watch. The BIG question is will anyone get home for hunting season! We'll all hang out, laugh, talk, cook, as we already do! Our elderly friend up valley will probably choose not to come. We'll take food up to her. 

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We are staying just the 4 of us this Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I'm actually looking forward to it :-).

Normally there are 10 of us at BIL's for Thanksgiving.  My 85 year old dad and 93 year old ILs are usually there too.  They are not social distancing so we are not going.  My SIL will take food to her parents and eat with them.  I will take a meal to my dad and we will FaceTime our meal with him.  He lives in an apartment building and I won't take my mask off over there.  Dad says he wears his masks out in the building, but I'm not taking the risk since I also care for my ILs.

For Christmas, we usually host the 10.  No one is coming over.  I am tired and we just want to enjoy the 4 of us for once instead of working ourselves to death to host Christmas.  So...same thing as for Thanksgiving.

We will be taking my ILs a yummy meal also for both holidays on a different day than my SIL takes them food.

While I don't wish COVID on anyone and wish it didn't exist, having a quiet holiday for once in 15 years will be a positive in all of this.

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We generally spend Thanksgiving with another family of 4 (friends, not relatives).  They are equally cautious to us so we will probably still do that, depending on how things are going in November.   If cases are high or someone has symptoms, we will cancel and just video chat with them instead.  
 

On either the 23rd of the 24th with have cousin Christmas Eve here.  That’s my two sons, my nephew and three nieces.  All of the cousins are remote schooling and wearing masks/limiting in person social activities so we will probably still have that if no one is sick.  

Christmas Day we like to spend alone anyways.  Traditionally we go to a movie so that won’t be possible.    

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re outdoor heaters:

17 hours ago, kand said:

Do you have outdoor heater suggestions? We’re planning outdoor visits only for the holidays, which will mean coats and warm clothes at Christmas. Heaters would make it nicer, though. We have a covered area to use. I don’t know how Thanksgiving will go. I don’t anticipate doing an outdoor meal; I don’t think anyone would be comfortable with that. I think that’s more likely to be just our family, and we will drop food by for my parents at some point and zoom. Christmas I think we can have a family get together outdoors to open presents. 

 

17 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Costco sells some great propane based ones....not appropriate for an indoor/outdoor deck, but for a fully outdoor backyard experience, they're lovely. They haven't come in stock for fall yet, but.... https://www.costco.com/fire-sense-patio-heater.product.100296466.html

We have had two of that Costco-type model on our patio for years.  They throw off a LOT of heat -- you're actually hot if you're next to it even in the dead of CT winter -- but they don't throw the heat very FAR (that's why we have two -- even pre-COVID we set one up on each end of our long & wide cast-aluminum patio table, and then arranged those of us, like me & eldest, who like to be toasty near them, and those of us, like husband and youngest, who are part polar bear to sit in the middle of the table far from the heat).  I think they must really be designed to aim into a space that is at least partially protected by tent flaps.

Because we anticipate more outdoor meals later into the season, I'm going to experiment with the idea of putting smaller heaters *underneat* fireproof tables, following the yurt / radiant heat principle that so long as your feet are warm you'll be OK.  So we got one of these: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Mr-Heater-18-000-BTU-Portable-Radiant-Propane-Big-Buddy-Heater-MH18B/309243646 which we hope we'll be able to put beneath the (metal) table and keep more of us warm at once.  If it works, we'll get more of them so we can do several tables each with a toasty family-group.

We also have one of those terra-cotta wood-burning chiminea things. They're good for toasting marshmallows and making it smell like a campfire and generally creating an intimate visual focal point, but they're useless for actual heat.

We have friends who spent the summer building an enormous bonfire pit with a surrounding patio-like space for 12 spaced out Adirondack chairs, which they plan to use all winter.  That's more a hangout space than a way to do a sit-down dinner though.

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We are going to have to stay home, and do immediate family only, for only the second time ever. (other time everyone had Strep throat)

I hate it. 

We could do an outdoor even, but with all the kids ages 3-10 there is no way to get them to reliably distance, and my mom is super super high risk. And my sister is a principal at a highschool that is open for face to face learning with thousands of students on campus and hudreds of staff, and her kids are in face to face school, so very exposed. And my oldest is working outside the house, so even though he masks he's exposed. 

so I just don't see us taking the risk to expose my mom. Not when we can wait and hopefully in 6 months to a year see her safely. 

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Thanksgiving and Christmas are usually held at our house, but our house isn't very big so we can't distance. By Thanksgiving we often have snow and cold, so outside isn't an option either. I'm not sure what we'll do. My mom has been panicked about not being able to have any family get togethers at all this year. I haven't seen my parents since I had to take mom for a medical procedure in May, although I call regularly. We were close to their house yesterday and met them in their backyard for a visit. DH and I were shocked at how bad they both looked. They've aged 10 years in the past few months. They're late 70's/early 80's and I'm not sure what to do about the holidays.😟

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We will likely all get together but there are only 11 of us and all are being careful. We usually go to dss' house with us and her side of the family (her sister, mother, stepfather). We've seen dss and family and her side has seen them. We two sets of in-laws have not seen each other in person since oldest grandson's birthday in February. But since everyone is on the same page regarding our activities outside the home, and we've already had contact or second hand contact with each other, we all feel comfortable with getting together as usual.

Our hope is there will be a vaccine, but...

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We just talked about it with the local friends who always come over for Thanksgiving. Right now, our plan is an outdoor gathering around a bonfire.

But I am not sure if it will be safe to have the kids come home and stay with us. Depends on how the situation at our college develops. If we're all online by then, sure. If we still teach in person and infection rates are high, maybe not.

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I'm currently not isolating from family anyway but that could change if things go sour as we all move indoors for the winter. Holidays seem so far away right now.

I want to separate myself from the in laws as they are hoaxers plain and simple but my husbands only brother is mentally disabled. He doesn't understand any of this nor would he be able to make any decision a 4 or 5 year old couldn't make.  He wants to come spend the weekend, as he often does to visit since we are just far enough away an afternoon visit doesn't seem worth the drive, but then we find out someone took him to a crowded race track with music and booths and food and not a mask in sight. He goes to restaurants and other indoor entertainment. If he was in anyway asked, "Would you rather see your brother and nieces and nephews or go to the track?" I know he'd rather come here but he has no idea and no one is going to ask him and even if we told him to talk to us about it before going, the person who is taking him would just say we're stupid and don't listen to us.  So my choice is accept risk from someone hanging out in very high risk situations or be a jerk to my mentally disabled brother in law. I don't think I'm super high risk my my youngest son and I have asthma. He loves to have Christmas with our family too but honestly I can't think that far ahead. 

If I hear, stay at home if you're at risk one more time I may go nuts. I wish life were that simple.

He has health problems too. I have no idea if they would classify as risk factors or how much because they are oddball things but there are a number of them. arghhhhhh.  We are blessed to live in a state with very low numbers but considering how much has been sacrificed by some people to keep it low, it is very frustrating to see this attitude. 

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I am just sick over Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Too many people coming from all over and gathering in my house.  I really don't know what to do to keep us safe.  And then there's my MIL - this is her first holiday season after FIL passed away in July (not from Covid, but Covid related).  I don't see how we can safely see her.  

I haven't seen ds1 or ds2 this year, but both plan on coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas to stay a while.  

Thanksgiving - 

dd will be flying home from college before Thanksgiving - probably two planes/airports since there are almost no direct flights.  She has finals the week after Thanksgiving so I don't want her getting sick from her brothers if she manages to stay healthy from the trip home. 

ds1 just told me is flying home and staying for a week.  He's been pretty careful, but still goes to the gym and then there's the flight/airports issue.  

ds2 is driving home, but stopping at his girlfriend's on the way.  I don't think she's coming, but not sure.  He's pretty careful, but also goes to the gym and is very socially active and sees a lot of people.  His girlfriend lives and works at a university that has a lot of covid activity

ds3 is pretty safe.  

 

Christmas - 

ds1 and his girlfriend will be driving home and staying for about a week, but stopping at gf's house first where there will be a big (30-ish people) family gathering in a family that doesn't believe in masks or distancing.  It's a Christmas party in a home, so it will be confined with eating and drinking - no masks.

ds2 is driving home, but attending a wedding first.  Again, stopping at his girlfriend's on the way and she will probably be staying with us for several days and he'll stay for at least a week.

ds3 and dd1 should be safe - need to keep dd1 healthy to go back to college in January (if campus is open)

 

DH thinks I'm overreacting by worrying about all of this except for maybe the situation with MIL.  

 

 

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I have been thinking about this since the beginning of August. I suggested to my mom that we rent a pavilion at a state park that is nearby. I went to the park to check them out, but they are kind of outrageously priced, and there are no refunds in case of inclement weather. We usually get together at my parents' house. I just can't see how it could be safe. Smallish rooms--no way to distance at all. I have a large deck and screened porch and large patio area underneath. I have a couple of those easy up canopies. I'm going to pitch the idea that we handle it like a tailgate or camping. Fire in the fire pit. Grill all the meats. It should be warm enough at T'giving here. Maybe even Christmas. I have 2 siblings with families and my parents, so it's a good size group. One positive for us is that we all live within easy driving distance, so no one has to fly in.

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We have gotten together with friends for the past 11 years.   Although last year they were out of the country, so we didn't get together.   I assume we will try to get together again this year.   My dad now rents a room from them, so they are kind of family.  😋

We will see.   They haven't commented on it yet.   

If not, we will have Thanksgiving here with just our family and have dad over.   He comes over every Sunday as it is, so I am not too worried about that part.   

Covid stinks

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One thing that’s important to keep in mind is that however low your individual risk, even if you are meeting with only a few people, when the whole nation does it on the same day at the same time it’s going to increase the overall risk, similar to how new year did in Wuhan.  So if you do get Covid at that time you risk being infected at a time when hospitals etc are under more pressure.  I think I’d be planning lower key options that are easy to cancel or modify of cases start increasing again instead of trending down.

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I usually take my 78 year old mom to have lunch with friends she's had since elementary school. She called to tell them we weren't coming this year although we thought about the possibility of getting take out and meeting at a park pavilion where we could sit away from each other. While talking to one of the women who's in her 90's, my mom found out that the woman had a get together with her family recently. The woman said she knows them so they won't make her sick.🙄 My mom asked how many people and she said EIGHTY! My mom said there's no way she's going anywhere near them now!

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We don't plan to have radically different holidays among family.  However, we will see our most vulnerable family first.  At that point we will have had very little contact with anyone.  Among family we have not worn masks or socially distanced, but we do make sure we have no symptoms or fevers.  

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Other the last several years we have been backing out of big family events for holidays. I expect we will sit them out this year.

We were supposed to be in the UK for Christmas with Oldest and DIL but that is looking more and more unlikely. 

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We are a small family for Christmas.  Hobbes will be home, I hope, but may have to self isolate when he arrives. Calvin may not be able to come, given likely restrictions by then. I Don't know about my mother who lives in a care home.

Thanksgiving will just be us two.

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I usually host Halloween and I'm switching it to a game over Zoom.

Thanksgiving is usually just our household so that can be normal.  One tradition is watching the parade on tv.  I can't imagine that happening as normal.

Christmas we normally get together at my brother's house and I just can't feel safe doing that.  We won't go but if everyone does get together anyway I will feel sad and worried.  I sort of hope they don't get together as usual.  Our family has had enough trauma.

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At this point I wish we would have had Christmas and Thanksgiving in the summer outside.  Really kicking myself about that.  It isn't doable to do that for us now.  I am just really down about stuff right now.

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Our daughter just touched base a couple of days ago to say officially that she won't be visiting us this season. My one-two reaction was to feel sad and then step back and wonder who would have thought that was a possibility, anyway?

We're usually pretty quiet, with just the two of us, one or both kids and, when they have them, their significant others. Christmas eve church used to be a big feature of our traditions, but got dropped several years ago, anyway. Both kids are single at the moment, our son (who works in entertainment at one of the few tourist-type attractions that seems to be doing okay) will likely be working both Thanksgiving and Christmas day, and our daughter isn't travelling.

So, once we know for sure what our son's schedule look like, we'll have to chat about how much effort we want to make to make things feel "normal."

Edited by Jenny in Florida
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7 hours ago, happi duck said:

I usually host Halloween and I'm switching it to a game over Zoom.

Thanksgiving is usually just our household so that can be normal.  One tradition is watching the parade on tv.  I can't imagine that happening as normal.

Christmas we normally get together at my brother's house and I just can't feel safe doing that.  We won't go but if everyone does get together anyway I will feel sad and worried.  I sort of hope they don't get together as usual.  Our family has had enough trauma.

We watch the parade too.  Until I read your post I hadn't even thought about it, but you are right, there is no way it could go on as normal.  I wonder what they will do? 

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