I’ll be home for the holidays – no, literally

This year’s Thanksgiving debate isn’t going to be which Thanksgiving side dish is the best or who is going to win the Thanksgiving Day high school football game.  

Instead, families across the United States will be debating whether to stay home for Thanksgiving and the other major holidays or go to Grandma’s.  

Honestly, if you had asked me in March whether I thought we’d be having to debate whether to go to Thanksgiving dinner, I would have said no because none of us expected this pandemic to last more than eight months. 

I’m not going to lie and say that I’m excited to get to skip out on family holiday parties despite complaining to my mom every year about having to dress up for them.  

Like many of you, I’m tired of only getting to see my loved ones through a computer screen or having to stand 6 feet away from them while wearing a mask.  

But the last place I want to see my family right now is at a funeral.  

Massachusetts is already experiencing a spike in cases in the last couple of weeks, some school districts are moving back to completely online instruction, and hushed whispers of a second lockdown are no longer just whispers. 

But despite being in the middle of a pandemic that has killed over 250,000 people in the United States alone, people are still deciding that traveling across the country or even across their small hometown is a smart thing to do.  

A survey completed by Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center found that 38% of Americans are planning to attend large holiday gatherings.  

This 38% of Americans cares more about their holiday feasts than the hospital workers who will be swamped by COVID-19 cases due to individuals disregarding social distancing guidelines.  

Deciding to travel and ignore social distancing guidelines during the pandemic is not only selfish, but it screams privilege. The actions of someone who refuses to abide by social distancing guidelines will not only affect them, but will affect every single individual they will come into contact with following their large social gathering. This includes everyone at the grocery store, their coworkers, their neighbors, and essentially their entire community. 

Reckless actions might be the reason someone will be spending Christmas Day in the ICU. 

Governors across the country have already predicted that following Thanksgiving, it is likely we will see even more COVID-19 cases across the country due to the disregard of social distancing guidelines.  

Although in-person holiday gatherings may not be possible this year, that doesn’t mean you have to cancel the holidays all together. For Thanksgiving Day, Zoom has lifted its 40-minute time limit for free meetings in order for people to still be able to “see” their friends and family.  

This won’t be my family’s first year using video communication to see family members, as we have used it in the past when my cousins were in college in other parts of the country or studying abroad. Although it wasn’t the same as having them there in person, just getting to see and talk to them always put a smile on every family member’s face.  

This year when I’m on Zoom with my family members, I will be smiling because I know our “family party” isn’t going to endanger the rest of our communities.  

The holiday season is not just about shopping and having huge family parties with an extravagant amount of food. 

It is a time of year that reminds us of the love and care we have for our family and friends.  

And this year, that love and care needs to look a little different in order to make sure all of our friends and family are here to celebrate the holidays with us in 2021.  

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated, “I love you so much and I am so grateful for you that I’m not going to see you. That’s how I know you love me.”  

So this year, I will be home for the holidays and you should be, too.