Virtual holiday gathering
The holidays are going to look very different this year. What if your family expects them to be normal?

Whether you loathe obligatory holiday traditions, or look forward to them for months in advance,  2020 has thrown a wrench into the plans for these annual gatherings.

COVID-19 shutdowns are beginning again, and governments are imposing their own restrictions on holiday celebrations. Public health officials are pleading with people to reconsider large holiday gatherings, particularly with family members outside of your immediate household.

But that advice goes against everything we crave about the holidays: quality family time, catching up with relatives, gathering closely and sharing a meal. Many older family members, especially, look forward to these occasions all year. 

Which could make for an awkward conversation with your family this year, if you’re choosing to play it safe and stay home. 

Whether you have been looking for an excuse to be dismissed from the chaos that family traditions can bring, or you have legitimate health concerns due to the pandemic, you may be looking for a way out of this year’s annual family gathering. 

Here are some points to consider if you are not planning to make the annual trek home for the holidays.

Let Those Planning Know as Soon as You Can

That said, once you’ve made your decision, let others know as soon as possible. The people who are planning for the celebrations that you typically attend, and are factoring you in, will appreciate the heads up. Even if you expect that the conversation will be met with sadness or even frustration, the very best policy is to let everyone know where you stand.

Be Truthful and Straightforward

Own your decision and be honest. It can be tempered with kindness, but honesty is the best policy. This is the best way to avoid getting yourself in more trouble by making up a lame excuse they will try to poke holes in. 

Announce your decision firmly and kindly so your family won’t try to convince you to change your mind. If you have legitimate health concerns, let the people you love know by explaining that was what you based your decisions on. 

If you have other commitments, let them know there is something else you are excited to try this year. Focus on the positive. If you have plans to stay home, let them know you will miss them and make sure they know you will make plans to visit as soon as it is feasible to safely do so. 

Make an effort to connect in another way like offering to check in with the group via zoom if that is something you feel like you can commit to.

Stay in and Enjoy a Holiday at Home for Once!

This is a trying time for everyone, so give yourself permission to do what makes you relaxed and happy. What do YOU want to do this holiday season? Embrace the fact that this year you have more reasons than ever to skip a tradition that you may not enjoy in the first place. 

Have you been thinking about how nice it would be to spend a quiet holiday in the comfort of your own home? Go ahead and give yourself permission to enjoy it! Embrace your decision, and although sharing it may be difficult, you are an adult and you can make your own choices based on what is going to make you happiest – and keep your family safe. 

If that means you get the added benefit of avoiding crazy uncles and political arguments, all the better. We have all been going through enough in 2020, and you shouldn’t feel bad about taking a year off.

You are Allowed to Put Health and Safety First

If you have underlying health conditions or there are others in your family who do, try not to let guilt and the feeling of obligation take precedence. Traveling and spending extended time in public during the largest disease spike we have seen since the pandemic began is not advisable. 

This is once in our lifetimes when staying away may mean we can continue to gather in the future. Tell your family you know it is disappointing but you would rather skip this one holiday to ensure that you are all around to celebrate in future years. 

Understand Feelings May be Hurt

Expect that your announcement may be met with some hurt feelings. Remember that the holidays mean a lot to many people, and not having a full gathering is a painful reality to come to terms with. 

Give your family time and space if they need it to process. Let them know that you hear them, even if it isn’t going to change your mind. If they have differing beliefs on taking precautions to guard against COVID-19, you may just have to agree to disagree.

No matter what, the 2020 holiday season is going to look very different. If you decide that what is best for you is to stay home, then do it.

Taking the proper precautions – even if that means skipping these gatherings entirely – will go a long way to ensuring that next year’s holiday gatherings can be fully attended, and safe for everyone.


  1. Minister Mike's Avatar Minister Mike

    Our daughter and her husband, who live seven miles away, have declined our invitation to our annual gluttony fest using the Covid as their excuse. Frankly, I think it's because Covid gives them an excuse to keep away from my grumpiness without hurting Mom's feelings. So, no matter the reason, I think their decision is the safe one for all of us.

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    I'm planning to go to Kroger sometime before Thanksgiving, and buy a Boston Market turkey TV dinner, as well as a Marie Callendar turkey pot pie for my Thanksgiving dinner that I'll eat all by myself, at home, with my door barricaded, in solitude. Last year I baked a turkey and other holiday stuff, and fed a lot of people, so they can't say I never gave them anything. I've got a lot of family photos of holiday parties at Grandma Rose's house, where we were at every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, to look at and reminisce, and I'll call Mom and Dad, and atleast text my brothers and some friends with a Happy Thanksgiving! message. I might even open my front door and holler at some neighbors, from a healthy distance. Anything beyond that will be postponed to another year, when it's safe to go out and play, again. You can't always have what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might just find, you get what you need.

    1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

      Well Happy Thanksgiving Carl Bernard Elfstrom and enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner. And Happy Thanksgiving to everyone else as well.

  1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

    Yes it will be hard on people who look forward to this traditional day, but, in a way it give a lot of people a break. Think of how much money is spend on buying food plus travel( with a lot of people out of work right now it would be hard on them to spend money they really don't have on hand to have to spend) and all the work involved getting your home ready for visitors either just for the day or even a long stay, plus all the work involved preparing all the Thanksgiving food. Just keep it simple this year and try to relax.

  1. Dave J's Avatar Dave J

    This is great advice, and I am going to share it on Facebook.

  1. Alan S Corr's Avatar Alan S Corr

    Go spend thanksgiving with your family and friends every day , every hour , every minute , you have a chance to be with a loved one should be taken advantage of . Heavenly Father watch over us as . we get together and spend time with family and friends on this thanksgiving . Bless us and protect us Amen

    The holiday are tough for a lot of people suicide go up during holiday season. Right now depression is at a all time high , alcohol and drug abuse have risen .

    Pray pray pray god listens and answers our prayers .

    Minster Alan Corr

    1. Brien's Avatar Brien

      Tell me Alan, as a front line health care worker who is exposed to the covid virus on a daily basis, should I attend a large, crowded family event with a mix of young and elderly? I do what I do in the hopes that NONE of my family will ever have to go through what I see on a daily basis. Just this one time, can we stop using GOD as a reason to be STUPID? Just a thought......peace

      1. Alan S Corr's Avatar Alan S Corr

        We can never stop using god as a reason to stop doing anything . Have faith pray I’ll pray for you . God bless you have a great day

        1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

          So you're saying God is the reason you're being stupid? Alan S Corr

    2. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      I'll pray that your stupidness goes away, Alan.

      1. Alan S Corr's Avatar Alan S Corr

        Thank you . I’ll pray for you as well . God bless you have a great thanksgiving .

  1. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp's Avatar Catherine Ohrin-Greipp

    Why do people believe THEIR god is only going to protect them, yet we see time after time pastors die from COVID? Get real. Your creator isn't some Aladdin in a lamp that you rub and ask for protection. We have free will to use our brains to make wise decisions based on science not some imaginary guy in the sky somewhere who floats on a magic carpet. The CDC is urging people to stay hone and not infect others. Use an online platform to visit with your family and friends. That's what I am doing to stay safe and ensure safety of others. Don't be stupid and reckless.

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