If someone would have told me back in March that we would continue to be living through a worldwide pandemic in November, I wouldn’t have believed them.  That being said, 2020 has lived up to its theme of “Expect the Unexpected.”

The Holiday season is going to look a little different this year for many reasons.  Every year, there are so many things to think through: shopping, decorating, cooking, baking, holiday parties and family celebrations to name a few.  This year, many people are also trying to juggle what type of celebration they are going to have.  Will just their immediate family be in house and extended family is zoomed in, or will they try to have as much of a normal holiday as possible in light of the current pandemic?  Personally, this is a very real dilemma for myself and my family.

Like many, my family is scattered in different parts of the country.  We do not get to see one another very often and this year visits have been even less than normal.  I will be hosting Thanksgiving this year at my house and I have put a lot of thought into each aspect of the day in consideration of the current pandemic.  I have thought about food preparation, serving the meal, eating the meal and spending time together as a family, to make sure it is as safe but still as enjoyable as possible.  This year’s gathering is especially important for my family as my niece and nephew will be graduating from high school this year, my youngest son is graduating from college, and this may be the last time all the grandchildren on one side of our family is able to come together for quite a while.

There is a lot of work involved in planning any Thanksgiving celebration, but when you add a global pandemic, it becomes an even larger feat.  This year, I am planning to spread us out over two floors in our home to assist with social distancing while watching football and visiting.  Meal time is a little harder and almost impossible to fully social distance.  We are planning to set up multiple tables for the grandparents to be able to have some separation from everyone else but still being able to be in the presence of family.  We will serve the meal with chafing dishes, buffet style, but I will have hand sanitizer at the beginning of the food line for each person to use and, of course, we will all be washing our hands frequently.  Also, I will be putting colored ribbons/tags on our glasses to help reduce mix ups and I will have name tags at each seat.

Our family traveling from out of state has the ability to, and will be getting COVID tests prior to their trip. Our youngest child that is away at college also has the ability to and will be getting a COVID test prior to leaving college and returning home.  Needless to say, everyone is putting their best foot forward to try to make this a wonderful holiday celebration, while also doing what they can to be respectful and protect one another.  There may be a few family members that choose not to attend, but we have told everyone that they need to make a decision that is best for them and everyone will fully understand and respect that decision.

I do think after such an incredibly stressful and frustrating year, everyone can use some time to celebrate and be with the ones you love.  Your Holiday may look very different from mine, but I encourage you to take some time to reflect on what you are thankful for this year. Thinking of the things we are thankful for in our life in the midst of such a difficult year can really help change our perspective.  I am so thankful for my family and the blessings they bring to me.  Family is one of the most important things in my life, and being together this year means even more to me than ever.  Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Elaine Spicher joined the Kreisher Marshall and Associates, LLC team in February of 2019. Elaine assists clients and their families with care coordination in an effort to keep your loved one in the least restrictive environment throughout their care continuum. Elaine brings over 20 years of experience working with the senior population through various healthcare settings. Elaine is a graduate of Bloomsburg University with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Elaine earned her Accredited Case Management Certification in 2012. She also has extensive training and experience working with individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and co-facilitates a monthly Alzheimer’s Support Group.