Keeping the Social in a Socially Distanced Thanksgiving

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Thanksgiving is upon us, and many of us start thinking fondly about childhood gatherings with grandma and grandpa as well as all the aunts and uncles gathered around the table. If you grew up in a larger family, you likely spent your first holidays relegated to the children’s table. There you might’ve missed out on some of the more exciting adult conversations; however, you likely made your own memories with your siblings and cousins at the little table.  

This year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines, Thanksgiving plans may look a little bit different for each of our families. Thanksgiving is a time to express our gratitude for the things that we have. We need to maintain health and safety by following social distancing guidelines.  

Here five ideas to help you stay well-connected during this socially distanced Thanksgiving holiday:

1. Video conference with your friends and relatives.  

Gather your family around the table and bring the screens to the table. If you have the opportunity, move the television into the dining room or the dining room table into the living room. Cast your virtual guests on the screen so that you can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with grandma and grandpa and the uncles in Minnesota.  

2. Call family members individually throughout the day.  

Not up for a video conference at dinner? Make individual calls, either audio or video, to extended family and friends throughout the day. Make it fun. For example, at 17 minutes past each hour, call a designated family member.  

9:17 AM – Grandma and in Palo Alto  

10:17 AM – Aunt Susie and Uncle Joe in Lake Tahoe 

11:17 AM – Sarah, who’s at college in Seattle.   

Take the time to check in with each of them for five or 10 minutes. Then continue with the rest of your holiday activities.  

3. Plan small, socially distanced gatherings throughout the holiday season with different relatives and or friends.   

In Oregon, we are currently limiting social gatherings to six people from no more than two households. Consider having grandma and grandpa over for dinner on Thanksgiving and then a week later having cousins over for hot chocolate around the bonfire in the backyard. Get creative on maintaining that social distance of 6 feet or more and still interact and spend time with family members.  

4. Take time to express gratitude to each of your family members.   

Buy or make Thanksgiving cards and have each member of your household write a note in the card expressing something that they are thankful for about that person. For younger children, have them draw a picture to include in the mailing envelope.  

5. Allow yourself to enjoy this holiday.

While the 2020 holiday season may not look like past holidays, this year is an opportunity to create new experiences and connect differently with your loved ones. And who knows, some of the experiences you create this year may turn into new traditions for you and your family. 

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Seeking Health and Happiness One Day at a Time.

Marcy Berg is a writer and therapist living in the Pacific Northwest and Exploring thoughts on mental health, wellness, and happiness. She can also be found at Growing Through Life.

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