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

"Merry Christmas, Grandma! Can you hear me? Oh, sorry, I'm on mute!"

That scenario – once largely restricted to members of the military and other folks living overseas – is expected to play out all over the U.S. and the world this holiday season.

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.

Staying Put for the Holidays

COVID-19 shutdowns are coming left and right, and many states are imposing strong 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.

This situation has even become the topic of a Saturday Night Live skit:

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

    Atleast become a ULC minister so y'all can spend your holidays with us on this blog.

  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. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

          I’m trying to understand how nodding to a brick wall in Israel, or talking to the floor or ceiling with hands together, or raised in the air, actually helps do anything. If there was a god he’s clearly not interested anyway or he’d have nipped this in the bud pretty damned quick like and loving father would with his children.


    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 .

      2. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

        Some people's gods, such as the one in the Old Testament, lead people to do stupid things, probably only to get a laugh, at how gullible they are to believe him, and do those stupid things. Yes, God does have a sense of humor, and it might sometimes be dry, and sarcastic.

  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. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    Most unfortunately, God did make a lot of stupid people. And he can't blame it on me, for I advised him against it eons ago, during a milinia meeting of the council of goddesses and gods.

  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. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      But we love to spend money, and can't get enough of it!!! Keep those stimulus checks coming, you good for nothing (else) socialists!!! Amazon will wholeheartedly thank you!

  1. Dave J's Avatar Dave J

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

  1. Anisahoni's Avatar Anisahoni

    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.

    1. Patricia Ann Wileman's Avatar Patricia Ann Wileman

      If you're in fear of your life stay home. If you think living with no contact with people is the way to live because of fear it's not living.You see the little god is not going to help you. It's the God our Father who is. However it take faith to belive He is the Father who cares. I'm not saying the China Covid is not real. So is the flu that no one has got the last 8 to 10 months now. If you do the same as you did for it all will be fine. If sick stay home. If you think your going to die if you don't put a dirty contaminated mask on your face reading carbon monoxide is going to keep you healthy I say get a little bit of common sense. But if it’s all about fear I would hope you would meet my Father God not the one with the little g, but the one which starts with G, God. Just one great thing about him it’s free choice. Just like fear is free choice so it’s your choice. Live in fear I live life to the fullest.

      1. Anisahoni's Avatar Anisahoni

        You are making very little sense. You know that right? Please get help. I think you are the one living in fear of science and medicine.

  1. Patricia Ann Wileman's Avatar Patricia Ann Wileman

    You don't know tomorrow. Be with family and friends. They are letting people dying alone in hospitals. Ppeople are literally dying of loneliness and convalescent homes and being without friends and family at home. People are dying of suicide. People are dying of loneliness and that is the saddest part.

    If you were a real Christian God does not put fear into your head. I’m not saying this virus is not real it is. Let me know why we don’t have the regular flu any longer it’s this crazy virus/China virus. The elderly and others have died just from the flu. However this particular virus the kids are dying like they did at the regular flu. However everything has to be shut down because everybody’s in fear.

    People were nasty mask and receiving less oxygen that gives her mind the ability to think properly. They’re breathing carbon monoxide. The touching the mask constantly there’s knows it is her nose runs. But they say and I’m not sure who all these people that are they say you have to live this way or grandma‘s gonna die. Well I guarantee grandma‘s going to die from loneliness and people not caring. So if you’re fearful to see grandma/mom make sure you talk to her regularly. You’re not gonna know if they fail hurt himself because you don’t have time for them because you’re afraid of the virus because someone put fear into your mind. If you’re right with God you don’t have fear. I’m not saying people don’t die but this virus it’s not killing people like they’re trying to scare you with. Yeah you’re going to get sick he did with the regular flu. So wash your hands use good hygiene.

    And don’t give up life for some political craziness. It’s not just the elderly and the young also need one on one face-to-face talking to somebody and having touch and hugs. And if you really are sick stay home if you’re not just use the precautions I have spoke about. And we should’ve already been doing that for years not going to work when you had the flu in the first place or a bad cold. You don’t need a virus scare you out of living but use some common sense if there’s any left up there.

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