It's time for a new year!

Long, long ago, for a Christmas to be celebrated in New Orleans, Greg and I made the tough decision to stay home with our young children….the outcries may have set off the seismograph at LSU and caused the Mississippi to flow backwards; however, all survived and the tradition slowly evolved to celebrating Christmas in Baton Rouge, where the grandchildren were.

2020 has brought times of great change and uncertainty, and impacted all types of family traditions and gatherings. And there are still more to come! Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years will be here before we know it. The holidays can be stressful enough without a pandemic to worry about!

Soooo… does one plan for the holidays? What to consider in trying to make these plans? And how to explain this decision to loved ones—young and old; near and far—and stay balanced? And what are some resources to help in this decision? Adriane Bennett, PhD, from the Cleveland Clinic, has many ideas that may help. This she calls “coping ahead,” which can be particularly important in this time of so much uncertainty.

As with many types of decisions, assessing the risks, the pros and cons, and the potential long-term effects are a good place to start. If you usually travel, the

caseloads both at your destination and at home can have an impact on what precautions may be needed. The local COVID-19 guidelines vary by state, parish or county and even cities…so you need to know what is required. And if the caseload is high, are you willing to take the risk of going there?

What about the mode of transportation? Flying? Driving? Train? Bus? Each has its own factors to consider. Where will you be staying? Hotel? With family members? How clean is where you are going? How about get-togethers? Does everyone you’ll be seeing wear masks, or do they think that’s not needed? Social distancing? And what about those in the high-risk category—including those in your immediate family, those you’ll be visiting, and those you’ll be coming home to? What is their level of comfort with risks?

After thinking about these, another area to look at is family behavior. As mentioned earlier, what about how seriously family members and friends are taking precautions? Have they been going to crowded events? How vigilant are they?

And what are your roles and responsibilities with the festivities? Are you going because (being good Episcopalians) “we’ve always done it this way” or because it is so very important to you? These concerns need to be weighed against other responsibilities…especially to those most vulnerable. It’s always most important to keep your feelings, comfort and responsibilities at the forefront, states Dr. Bennett.

The CDC has also made a comprehensive guideline for the holidays, as well as assessments on activities based on risk-level. Please click here for more information>>

Next week, we’ll look at some ideas, that, if indeed, you decide to skip the family gathering, and how to respond to reactions that may arise.

May you and yours stay safe and healthy,