Yes, “holidays” is a plural word here. Please allow me to digress on this plurality and simply point out that there are at least 27 holidays between November 1 and the top of the next year … Bodhi Day (if you’re Buddhist), Mandala Vratham (if you’re Hindu), Yalda (if you’re Persian), Hannukah (if you’re Jewish) and I haven’t touched on Jain, Sikh, Christian or other holidays. I may be making my plans for Thanksgiving, but the plans are applicable to everyone’s holiday gatherings over this coming season as we work to emerge from the COVID pandemic. Most everyone is concerned with making a traditional family holiday gathering a safe event (and trying to be certain we can get those items on the menu that may be squeezed by supply chain shortfalls).
If your holiday plans include a meal or a gathering with family or friends who are not part of your physical household, the principal issues are to protect everyone from infection and from arguments. Regarding the infection, we have role models from some companies who require a vaccination to keep a job, but that may not work for a family that you want to welcome, despite potential differences of opinion on vaccines. Yet, as you bring together family members who may be immune-compromised, what can you do?
In our family we have been working to keep lines of communication open with all regarding vaccination status as we plan our gatherings. We accept that there are numerous sources of information for all members of the family, but we have established that all gatherings will be with a focus on keeping a venue safe for the immune-compromised and for the unvaccinated as well as maintaining civility. For us, that means same day testing at the site of any gathering as well as good ventilation and safe distancing at meals. Ask your provider or pharmacist for the at home test with the greatest reliability and shortest turnaround time. Second, it means some new rules of engagement at the table.
Throughout all of the planning and gathering, it is important to help family stay safe and to hold together if you have differences of opinion on COVID and what public health steps are to be applied at the family level. Consider the following:
1. Focus on the goal – the family gathering
2. Focus on safety – of those whose health issues need to be at the center of any decisions
3. Focus on civility – don’t let this be the argument that drives a wedge
4. Focus on empathy – taking on the role of the other.
Charlotte Bishop is a Caregiver Coach, an Aging Life Care Advisor, a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.