Celebrating Holidays During COVID-19

“Thanksgiving Spread” by crschmidt is licensed under CC BY 2.0

By ena ganguly

The holidays are upon us this year! And though it is ultimately up to us to decide how we want to spend it, we still may be in our feelings about how this year is going to look different for our families than in recent years. This is especially true for those of us who are or live with the elderly, immunocompromised, or folks with chronic illnesses. 

Here are some ways to celebrate any festivities you are planning towards the end of the year:

Virtual Gatherings

It’s not the same as meeting in-person of course, but consider setting up a laptop or a phone that connects your families with one another. You can do this over Zoom, Skype, Google Meets, Jitsi, and any number of video chat applications. This suggestion may be harder for those who are not tech-savvy. If this is the case, consider sending some a relative or friend who lives close by and has been observing isolating and social distancing to mask up and set up the device for that family or relative. 

Social Distant Rituals 

If you chose to see your family, which is absolutely valid and reasonable, consider seeing them from afar. You can do this by having a socially distant hangout outside where you drink apple cider, eat something warm and talk through a phone or loud enough for your relatives to hear you. It’s more intimate than video chatting but still protects folks from spreading or contracting the virus. 

Maybe your family can even make a ritual out of it, where it is fun and exciting to do something socially distant, like charades or ‘guess the picture from a distance’. We can get creative while trying to spend time with our relatives and staying safe. If nothing immediately strikes you, consider thinking of your traditions and the things that your family usually do together. How can you take part in these traditions during the era of COVID-19?

Hosting an Outdoors Potluck

For folks who were raised in Texas, or really anywhere in the South, probably don’t want to be outside in the cold during the holidays. But, maybe rent a heat lamp or start a bonfire in the backyard that would keep the family warm. 

Bundle up and set up tables outside with chairs and tables for folks to eat. Families can bring their own disposable utensils and plates and hand sanitizers to sanitize their hands between touching serving spoons and eat 6 feet apart from one another.

For an added layer of protection, consider asking all relatives to take a COVID-19 test. Most places have health departments where there is an offering of free screenings. Here are some resources to get screened in Austin. Let your relatives know to stay home if they experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

It may feel awkward at first to ask your relatives or friends to do so, but when you explain that it is for the highest good of all people involved, especially those who you love and care about, they will understand. Some of this is about exercising our own boundaries, which requires stepping outside of our comfort zone to vocalize those boundaries. 

What are some ways you are celebrating the holidays this year? Share with us on social media at @allgoqpoc! 

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