MENTAL HEALTH

Celebrate family traditions - even online

Consider rethinking some family traditions, like baking a pie at the same time talking over the phone, to create a virtu
Consider rethinking some family traditions, like baking a pie at the same time talking over the phone, to create a virtual Thanksgiving celebration. (Adobe Stock)

We talked to AARP to get advice on how Eastern Iowa families can figure out how to handle Thanksgiving and Christmas in this year of COVID.

Q. Families all over Iowa — and the country — are rethinking the holidays. How should families start the conversation on how to celebrate Thanksgiving this year?

A. First, don’t underestimate how important planning and communication are for families and friends this holiday season.

Establish ground rules that make all parties feel comfortable and make sure everyone is being transparent about risks and everyone feels comfortable with agreed-upon rules and procedures. Those rules may include asking everyone to have a COVID-19 test before attending, or asking anyone who feels ill to stay home. Think of focusing your procedures for the protection of the most vulnerable members of your family.

Second, remember to include meaningful pieces of your family traditions wherever you can. Can you cook grandma’s apple pie together over Zoom? Can you have a favorite Thanksgiving memories Zoom chat? Finally, remember that it won’t always be this way. Think of this time as a short term sacrifice for the protection of your family for future gatherings.

Q. Conditions seem to be changing every day. What should we consider?

A. According to CDC guidelines, celebrating virtually or with members of your own household poses low risk for spread. For those who do choose to celebrate the holiday with others, it is safest to gather outdoors, though that’s not an option for everyone during colder months. If you have to meet inside, the CDC recommends shortening the duration of the event and says that gatherings with more preventive measures in place, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing, pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures are being implemented. As a final tip, the CDC recommends getting tested for COVID after the event to ensure you did not contract the disease. Read more at aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-2020/thanksgiving-risks-coronavirus.html

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Q. Any ideas on how to not focus on what we can’t do but instead create some new fun or meaningful traditions?

A. Can’t get the whole family together for Thanksgiving this year? One solution is a virtual celebration for friends and families.

Take some time to do planning like you would for an event in your home. But no matter what you decide, remember to take some time to enjoy seeing your family all together, even if it’s virtually.

Does your family have a traditional prayer or song? Do you like to reminisce about a favorite holiday story? A brief sentimental moment could make your event one to reminisce about for future generations, or perhaps create a new tradition. Find out more about how to host a virtual Thanksgiving celebration at aarp.org/ia.

Whether you’re gathering family virtually from around the block or across the country, take some time during your virtual Thanksgiving to give thanks, and remember that being virtual is only temporary.

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.