Staying Safe and Sane During the Holidays Re- writing the holiday tradition

Staying Safe and Sane During the Holidays

Re- writing the holiday tradition

by Dr. Michael Kane

For many families the yearly holiday traditions are well established, Thanksgiving is always “over the river and through the woods” at Grandma’s house, and the other holidays alternate between the in- laws or a beloved aunt’s house.

The pandemic disrupted long-standing traditions for many households last year. With the development of vaccines, many are excited at the prospect of returning to pre-pandemic traditions and celebrating with our extended families.  But for others maybe not so much.

What if you really enjoyed the holidays last year? After all the pandemic allowed some of us to experience a new observance, the germination of possibly a new tradition, more intimate and without the old stressors of the past.

If you had a really good holiday season last year just hanging with your immediate family or family of choice, the thought of getting together with the whole clan may not be as appealing as it once was, which raises the question “Is it worth it ?”

I think these past two years have been stressful enough for all of us. Perhaps the holidays should be put through the filter of “what would be ideal for me and my immediate family.  “

Granted it might not be the same for every family member but asking the question as a group can be a way to get a sense of what we value in  some “traditions”, while letting go of others.

After the discussion you will have new insight into what would be most enjoyable for you and those closest to you.

The opportunity for change always existed, the pandemic might have given us a chance to evaluate things in a new light and a reason to change.

For single people, the options for change are more then just family or being alone.

A friend’s giving, a family of choice gathering can be so much fun, especially if you feel disconnected from your family of origin.   The important opportunity for us all is to evaluate what you value and make it your new tradition.


For me

Having this discussion at home made me realize that I missed seeing everyone last year and having individual talks and catch-ups with my siblings and my nieces and nephews.   The good food and laughs were sorely missed. So, for my immediate family the vote was thumbs up to tradition.

 If you go with the large gatherings for the holidays or create a new tradition there are measures to ensure a safe and healthy time.

Hosting a gathering might include setting down some rules.

The challenges of hosting in a pandemic now includes thinking about prevention and taking into account the health and comfort levels of those gathering.

One of the principles of medicine is First, Do No Harm; this would be a good rule for hosting for the holidays.

The goal would be to host a gathering that would not put your guests  at risk for exposure, especially if there is someone with significant health concerns. For many this may mean making some tough decisions.

Control what you can.

My suggestion would be, if you are inviting family and friends to a larger gathering resembling pre pandemic traditions, do everything to make it as safe as possible.

Extra thought might be taken to ensure another level of planning and protection for those at great health risk. If there are friends or family members that have some health concerns it may be necessary to review with them their comfort level and what precautionary measures are being taken, and if they feel comfortable being in a larger group setting.

Further, being fully vaccinated doesn’t mean you cannot get or spread covid.  Vaccination status doesn’t have to be a family divider, there are inclusive strategies to ensure that everyone is welcome.  We can be thoughtful, safe and inclusive during these holidays.

Treat everyone the same and have everyone get Covid tested 3 days before your gathering.

For the benefit of everyone, suggest that everyone limit potential exposure settings such as avoiding group activities in the days prior to the gathering.

On the day of the gathering:

Plan outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy.

Have glasses that people can designate as their own.

Have designated servers (less hands on things)

Provide an optional outdoor eating space.

Create a separate eating room with good ventilation for those of higher risk

Wash hands often

Masks are also still in the CDC guidelines.

CDC Holiday Guidelines

For some this may seem like a bunch of bull%$#@ and I get it, this is tiresome and all of us want this this pandemic to be over. But if these precautions can help decrease the angst and injury to those we love then they’re worth the extra planning.

Have a safe holiday !