We never could have predicted that eight to nine months into initial “shelter in place” orders we would still have to plan socially distant Thanksgivings. Most of us thought it would be a month – or three months – at most. But – here we are.

We agree with Dr. Evelin Dacker, who wrote, “Forsaking joy, love, pleasure and others for the period of time until herd immunity is reached will cause inordinate suffering. We each have our own personal tolerance for illness, disease and death. It is imperative that we understand this in order to take into account everyone else in our container and community at large.”

Take Good COVID C.A.R.E.

We encourage you to read (and share!!) Dr. Decker’s incredible article, COVID CARE: A Way Forward to Opening Up Social Circles, written towards the beginning of the pandemic. As the numbers surge and restrictions continue to fluctuate back-and-forth, her offerings are as relevant now as they were back in May.

In it, Dacker elaborates on the COVID C.A.R.E. acronym: Container, Agreement, Risk-Tolerance, Etiquette.

Establish where you and others are on this 0 – 6  COVID strictness scale

The ultimate goal is to establish where you fall in her simple, tiered 0 to 5, list of COVID Risk Tolerance. By identifying where you are at, and determining where members of your family and social circles are at, you will create a more unified and healthy Thanksgiving.

A basic outline of her C.A.R.E. tiers look similar to this:

  • 0 – Very strict isolators. You’ve been in very strict isolation alone or with others in a container. No mingling.
  • 1 – Strict. You’ve been in strict isolation alone or with others in a container, but with some level of mingling as long as stringent health protocols are observed.
  • 2 – Fairly Strict. You’ve been in fairly strict isolation alone or with others in a container, but get out to the store, errands, work, etc.
  • Somewhat Open. You’ve chosen to be somewhat open with their container alone or with others and almost exclusively adhere to health guidelines. Your circle probably contains 10 or fewer people outside of your immediate household.
  • Moderately Open. You’ve chosen to be moderately open with their container alone or with others. Your circle is larger than 10 people and you adhere to guidelines about 40% to 60% of the time – often still hugging or standing closer than 6-feet when with your familiars.
  • Very Open. You really only observe social distancing rules and precautions when you have to. You have little to no concerns about living life as you did prior to the March/April shutdowns.

If everyone in your family/close friends circle is willing to identify where they’re at, you can have a conversation about what your Thanksgiving gathering should look like to respect everyone’s position.

An Array of Ideas for Socially Distant T-Day Celebrations

Ideas include:

  • Practice letting go. If you love Thanksgiving, you may be devastated at the way this year is shaping up, and it’s easy to get into arguments or debates about who feels/thinks what. Use gratitude and stress-management tools to help get you through!
  • Following the CDC’s guidelines
  • Plan an Outdoor Thanksgiving for those who are comfortable participating
  • Go on a walk or hike together to enjoy quality time, breaking up into groups that correspond with your C.A.R.E. Levels for mealtime
  • Having those who are more strict join from their screens for a portion or all of the meal
  • Asking those who are less strict on the scale to spend the next 14 days adhering to strict guidelines so the family can gather without being worried. Those who can’t agree to do so would respectfully participate in the Zoom, FaceTime, or Google Video Hangouts model.
  • Wearing masks and keeping 6 feet of distance if there is room to do so
  • Hosting the meal/gathering outdoors if the weather accommodates
  • BYO food and utensils, to prevent cross contamination
  • Watch the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade “together” on a conference call
  • Have a Video-based Thanksgiving Cocktail hour (Follow the links for traditional and non-alcoholic cocktail recipe ideas)
  • Support a local restaurant by ordering a TakeOut Feast (traditional or not)
  • Create a Thanksgiving music playlist and tell everyone to hit “play” at X:00 – so you’re sharing the same tunes
  • Sync a Thanksgiving movie marathon and laugh together
  • Spend different parts of the meal with different households. Like a progressive dinner but via video chat.
  • Do patio visits with the housebound. If elders and beloved Level 0s and 1s are indoors, spend the earlier part of your day doing “patio visits” through the screen door.
  • Send everyone a list of what you are thankful for this year, and then read them all aloud at your individual dining tables, so you’re all there in spirit.
  • Have dinner at a local restaurant that maintains diligent, safe dining practices with guests

The Overlake OB/GYN team wishes your family a safe and happy Thanksgiving. We 100% acknowledge the toll this pandemic has taken on us all – individually and as families/friends – but this is a time to celebrate health, wellbeing, and all that we have. Make the most of it as openly and graciously as you can.