Holiday meals during COVID

agmss15

What are people thinking about Holiday family meals this year? Are you worried about Covid and family gatherings?


We are heading towards winter here in Maine (although it certainly does not feel like it at this very moment) and outside socializing is going to get much harder. I recently spoke to someone who was organizing her family to shop for Thanksgiving several weeks early and then all self quarantine so as to have a extended family dinner gathering.

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plllog

The quarantine idea is great if people will be conscientious about it.

Most of my family is far flung. Ordinarily, one cousin (party of 3) who lives nearby would come. We haven't talked about it. I think all of us do see each other, some at greater distance than others, but all together at one table unmasked and eating, even if we did Thanksgiving outside (SoCal, where that's possible) for fewer than 10, it sounds like a bad idea. We could do everybody six feet apart, but Zoom would be closer.

It's holidays for us right now, and we've just been doing telephone calls. I usually have dozens for Sukkot (harvest), which is next week, but even though it's outside, there's still the distancing and it just doesn't work. Holidays have been making me sad and I can best deal with it by doing nothing. It's a lot of work putting up the sukkah (harvest shack), and not worth it just for us few.

I probably have to cook on Thanksgiving day even if it's just for 4-5 of us, so I'll do T'day style dinner in a small way. Maybe a turkey breast, cranberry sauce, roasted sweet potatoes, and salad. Simple dinner, but T'day themed. It's easier than lasagna, so why not?

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lovemycorgi z5b SE michigan

I usuallly host Thanksgiving for my small extended family, just two brothers and their families, our parents have passed away and my in-laws are out-of-state. However, there are many teens & college aged children in the mix, with boyfriends/girlfriends, schools, and jobs. Because of that, each family will be celebrating individually this year, with the hope that we will all be healthy and able to celebrate with each other next year.

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sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)

My family south, within driving distance of each other, are planning to bubble two weeks personal quarantine, shop early. 3 grands under 5yrs old, ...My MIL is 90 living with my SIL. Very serious about being safe.

My family will not meet up being so many airline flights involved.

We have accepted that and so be it. Not safe and their home is tiny. They have been cynical and pissed but I cannot play that covid roulette game with them. 91 and 92 yrs old.

Shop early, self quarantine, be serious, and what a great holiday will be had. My MIL has three great grands and SIL grands under 5 yrs old. Bubble your tribe. No cheating. If you bubble your group it is so impossible to infect your extended family.



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l pinkmountain

Interesting that this topic would come up. I was just thinking about it yesterday while cleaning my dining room. I too am dreading the days when we can no longer enjoy dining "al fresco" on our back porch . . . Ironically I am taking a sabbatical specifically so I could clean and organize my house to alleviate the CHAOS that has taken over, (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). Wanting to have as much hospitality here as the place can muster so revamping to accommodate that. And now this virus pandemic!! Ugh! We weren't entertaining for large groups much before the pandemic so I imagine we'll stick to small socially distanced gatherings this fall and winter and dream about future parties . . . I really worry about my Dad, he loves to socialize and hangs out with deniers, and he's 88 with the top three underlying conditions . . . I wish his friends would value him enough to make the small concessions that would keep him safe, but it's a badge of honor with them, no telling them what to do . . . ever!! . . . Hubs and I can easily cocoon for a season or two and find alternate ways to connect with family and friends. Hubs is busily shopping for a camper so we can stay in it while visiting his family out East. We'll have to see how it goes. If the virus takes an uptick, and all indications are that it will, we will have to isolate ourselves on an even stricter regime. Our home states are in the middle of the pack as far as transmission, but could swing back up and probably will. I am working on turning the back area of our rancher to the "quarantine area" if it becomes necessary. Sigh.

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amylou321

Not sure. I know that my sister is hosting thanksgiving this year. Just her, her husband and her kids are a party of 8, and I have been invited as have our parents and siblings. (I have also been asked to cook for it) But I am working that night and probably wont go, and my parents likely wont either. I will be at my work gift wrapping ceiling tiles and stringing lights alone.

No clue about Christmas. Christmas Day is normally spent with everyone's own individual family group. I will likely be invited to the same sisters house for some sort of Christmas meal on the day as well. Probably wont go to that. We normally do our big family gathering (parents, all the siblings that can come with their spouses and kids) sometime after Christmas, but I don't really know if that's a thing this year. We almost always have a big party during the summer when my out of state siblings all come to town when the kids are out of school, but we didn't have one this year.

My parents are in their 70s.

My siblings and I have continued to work as normal. Most of us work with the "public." I work with lots and lots of truck drivers from all over the country. I have a brother who works in retail and a sister who works as a substitute teacher at an elementary school.

Some of their children have returned to school.

I would not want to put my parents at risk. I will enjoy each holiday season to the fullest that I can. I do not need to be in the same room as family or sharing a meal to do that. I do not think they want to risk it either. They are retired and have been thoroughly isolated and cautious. But if they want to have a gathering and ask me to cook for their party, I will as I always do. We will have to wait and see. I really hope that its not an issue. Just let it go this year. I am happy to sit and home and binge watch Christmas movies with SO.

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nancyjane_gardener

Probably will travel 1 1/2 hrs to my daughter and her wife's home to cook for them. DIL has been in the hospital for a month with pre eclampsia and will deliver in a week (twins!). My daughter works either at home or in the office. Pretty safe. The other daughter teaches by zoom, and her hubby works from home.

The only other one is my sister who SAYS she's being safe, but she's going to have to prove it to me for a couple weeks before! She can't go a day without seeing someone!

Everyone else has their own families to be with.

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John Liu

We have developed a close bubble of our immediate family, the daughter of close friends who moved to Portland and is under our wing so to speak, and three older friends. Those are the only people allowed in our house.

There is also a loose bubble of about 20 other friends who very occasionally come over, in twos and threes, to socialize on the porch or in the backyard or simply chat in the front yard.

We may have the close bubble over for holiday dinners, that’s undecided.

The weather is turning here and outdoor socializing is going to be difficult. This winter is going to be a long, isolated one.

By the way, I did some math on the exposure risk. This is for Oregon, other states may be different. This is why I’m going to tolerate the isolation and stick to the bubble:

Oregon has about 200 new confirmed cases/day. There are about 10 actual cases for every 1 confirmed case (9 are asymptomatic, mild w/o testing, couldn’t get testing, etc.) So about 2,000 actual new cases/day. A newly infected person is infectious for around a week (longer for severe cases, but those will usually be isolated in hospital). So at any given day, there are at least about 14,000 infectious people in Oregon. 14,000 / 3 million population is 0.47% of popln.

If you are in a room with 1 other random person, that is a 0.47% chance he’s infectious. If you’re in a group with 10 other random people, 5% chance at least one of them infectious: that is 1 - [(1 - 0.0047)^10]. With 50 other random people, 21% chance at least one is infectious. 1 - [(1 - 0.0047)^50].

If you work in the retail industry, work with the general public, ride a bus, your encounters probably come fairly close to being random. If you are only in rooms with carefully isolating people, your odds are lower. If you associate with groups more likely to be infected, your odds are higher.

So, what’s that mean? If you go to crowded places daily, before long your chances of being with an infectious person become pretty high. If that crowded place is outdoors with breeze, distancing and movement, your exposure to their viral shedding may be pretty low. If that place is indoors in close quarters, your viral exposure is potentially pretty high.



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Fun2BHere

I don't know what to do. We definitely won't have our usual gathering of friends for Thanksgiving, but we normally travel to another state where my elderly parents live for Christmas. We have our airline tickets, but I get sick every time I fly despite following rigorous hand-washing/no-face-touching protocols, so I'm concerned about getting on an airplane during COVID.

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l pinkmountain

I'm with you Fun, I stopped flying unless absolutely necessary about 15 years ago after fighting off terrible viruses every time I was on a flight longer than 1.25 hrs. In fact, that's kinda what ruined my immune system already, which is why I may be one of those people who isn't blase about something that is "just the flu" or "just a cold." Each time I get something like that I'm sick for at least six weeks . . . Teaching is very risky, ask any teacher. Now I'm on sabbatical, so at less risk, but add little kid grandchildren into the mix and we're back where we started. I would so much like to be with the little grands now, while they still like us though!! We are working on some long distance projects but it ain't the same. Hubs is looking to buy a travel trailer so we can go there and stay for longer periods of time. But not this holiday season. Luckily, we spent a LOT of time with them last year . . . We'll have to send goodies in the mail. My Mom grew up with two Aunts living in MT and OR and she lived in MI, so they sent big boxes of presents for all their nieces and nephews every year. Hand knitted mittens being one of the memorable gifts my Mom mentioned.

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seagrass_gw Somewhere

My husband has offered to drive me from Cape Cod to Columbus, Ohio in November so I can spend the winter with my dear, 88 year old mother. It's a 2-day trip, about 17 1/2 hours. I will not fly. We are basically self-quarintined here on the outer Cape where we live and will have a very careful stay at a hotel on our way there. She lives alone in her own house, still drives and is very independent but is very lonely. So - I will discourage her from gathering with others and will cook a small T-day dinner for the 2 of us. We will cozy up, drink tea and read mystery novels for the duration. I will cook for us. I love her dearly,

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Fun2BHere

Isn't driving as risky as flying? You have to stop every few hours for gas and bathroom breaks. I guess that's not the same as being trapped with strangers breathing on you, but I had read that a lot of the places have closed their bathrooms. I'm not comfortable using the side of the road.

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agmss15

Seagrass - What part of the Cape? My aunt and uncle lived in Truro for years. Both are gone now. They were part of founding an art center in Provincetown in the 60s. We had her memorial there. A nice man brought oysters which were among the three things my aunt would eat - he had kept my aunt supplied while she was alive too. Tangents....

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l pinkmountain

As someone who has traveled during the pandemic, there are two issue to manage. One is picking up the virus on surfaces that you might encounter on the road, but that was always an issue. In addition to some places doing extra cleaning, you can carry sanitizing wipes and wipe the surfaces you'll be coming into contact with down yourself. Having tested common surfaces for microbes in biology lab, I can tell you that bathrooms are always the least germy, since they get regular sanitizing. We sanitized our motel room and all hard surfaces there, and it was probably more germ free than at another time we have stayed in a motel . . . we avoided people, they gave us our complimentary breakfast in a brown paper sack. It was fine.

The larger issue is the people you might encounter. Hubs and I have been surprised at how uncrowded public bathrooms have been on our trips. Stores, etc. are no different than at home. We pack our own food and practice masking and social distancing for gassing up and minimal contact purchases. But the larger issue is the new people you will be contacting when you get there. Close contact with people, in enclosed spaces, even if they are family members you trust, is the huge risk. You can figure out the risk somewhat. Seagrass' mother is unlikely to have come into contact with a lot of people. I say this because my Dad is the same age and even though it is tough to get him to practice social distancing, so far he does it to some degree and just plain doesn't have the energy for a lot of socializing. So Seagrass can check her mother's contacts and figure out that risk. She knows hers is low due to her practices. That's how we handled it when my husband went to visit his family. The risk is not zero but it is low and manageable.

I might suggest that you set up a quarantine place at both your Mom's and your house. And also, Rite Aide pharmacies offer free covid tests. Hubs and I socially distanced until he got his results back. Not perfect, but reasonable and he had no known contact with an infected person and visited people who practiced social distancing. This is how risk management works, the more people involved, the greater the risk, even if each individual person might carry a low risk of infection. But if it's two people and they are both low risk, the risk rate doesn't rise that much . . . some but very little. In a classroom full of 30 kids, all bets are off . . .

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seagrass_gw Somewhere

agmss15 - we live in Eastham, 4th town from the tip of the Cape.

l pinkmountain - my mother has been very careful. Got her flu shot on Thursday at her doctor's office. I'm scheduled a week from today for mine. Even though her small church has started having services again, she does not go. She has had friends visit - they wear masks and sit in her yard to talk. My husband & I have gone to several track events in the past month at motorsports parks in NY, NH & MA. Always outside and masks worn by everyone. Hand sanitizer with us always. We have Chlorox wipes to disinfect our hotel rooms and none of the places we stayed had housekeeping services come in while we were there. We always ask for a 1st floor room near an exit. We bring our own food. Like you, breakfasts were offered in paper bags.

I think it will be ok. DH & I will not be taking any more trips away from home so we'll self quarantine in October. I sometimes get a little panicked about going, but I get more panicked at the thought of going more than a year without seeing her. We are very close and she's half way to 89. I will be there for her birthday in February. She won't be alone for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I think I'll get out the good china!

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moosemac

Not sure what we are going to do yet. We usually host two Thanksgivings, one for friends who do not have family and one for my in-laws.

One friend's husband is a denier so that is out.

My inlaws are in their 90's and frail. I am extremely reluctant to host them because our 3 year old grandson who lives with us attends preschool every day. Even before COVID we called him the human petri dish. LOL To top it off, both my sister inlaw and daughter are immuno compromised due to battling cancer. I think I will bow out of hosting Thanksgiving this year.

I will hold off on making a decision regarding Christmas events but I have a feeling we will be hunkering down and not entertaining.

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artemis_ma

I don't have family nearby to begin with. Most years I spend that Thursday with friends, and it is pot luck. Then, the following Saturday with another set of friends, also pot luck. If nothing happens for either date this year, I will cook up some turkey thighs (the only edible part of a turkey, thank you), sweet potatoes (no sugar or marshmallows) and at least something else somewhat traditional.

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sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)

No, I would not fly. Will not fly. Driving would be ok with a smart phone. Pre-covid road trips we would search ahead for rest stops. Cooler packed with healthy foods. Not huge appetites traveling anyway.

The larger truck/food stops have had no contact bathrooms for years. Planning ahead for stops and calling ahead would help. Fuel up before needed.

Lots of ways to prep a car for bathroom emergencies.

Like John Liu mentioned, it is all about numbers and percentages. At work it is testing twice a week, 24 hour results. Also rapid tests but two swabs are taken since it is 70% result accurate. Packets of mask and face shields handed out daily with picture ID cards around neck. No other is allowed in the building. Any given day is 200-800 possible employees. Risk is low but never 100%. Non-compliance is immediate termination. Nose exposure is given warnings. Sent immediately to the office medical to be given proper nose guard fit/education. (usually slacker hipster 25-30 yr old males)

Not extreme conditions. Not that difficult at all. Loose math, 800x2-3 test per week for 6 weeks. Not a single positive or even a false positive.

No Karen/Ken situations. We, personally, are on the cusp of retirement. In good shape financially. DH has three employees under his wing that have newborns delivered during the worst of lock-down. We/they are taking this seriously. All are serious and careful. They need the income. Home deliveries and contactless pick-ups at home. Home prepared lunches.

Fortunately home grocery delivery has been available for 20+ years in NY.

Just a personal situation that dramatically lowers the numbers/percentages of contact/aerosols/infection. A super spreader would shut down the entire building. Not likely to happen with strict precautions.

Back to the OP family holiday traditions. Dad is pissed we will not travel. (5-6 hour drive). He refuses to self quarantine with Mom for the proper time. (he is a retied scientist and gets it), or should understand. I usually plan the entire holiday meals for 3-5 days, and spoil them. But he thinks our NYC work/safety protocols are extreme. Mother is early dementia and took off in the car last week. Long term memory is fine but short is trouble. Told him last year to keep the keys in the glove box or where she can't find them....she has no idea why people are wearing masks. 😒





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Nana H

Our Thanksgiving is just two weeks away. Provincial mandates are social gatherings of no more than 10 indoors. My T-Day gatherings are always between 18 and 20 sometimes a few more.

It's a real bummer but we have decided to break the family into two dinners. My SIL will do 10 and I will do 10 . We have decided on the exact same menu, except desserts and appys, and we will ZOOM it.

Best we can do but keeping everyone safe and sound until this thing can be controlled is our priority.

ETA Covid sheltering in place/working from home has some benefits... both DS and his wife and DD and her husband are expecting the same week in March!

Someone wake me when it's all over.

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agmss15

Whenever I am feeling grim I am cheered up by how some people are adapting to these difficult circumstances. I like the idea of the zooming although my skills and technology both make it clumsy.

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sushipup1

My DIL's brother and his wife have been hosting the family feasts for years, but this spring, Keith took a new job about 300 miles away. They sold their house and moved this summer, and we are all mourning the loss of the gathering. There were usually about 20 people and when we moved here 4 years ago, we were immediately welcomed.

DIL isn't hosting events this year at all, and neither are we. Sigh, at least we have great memories. I anticipate future Thanksgivings here at our house because we have the space, and we hope that next year, we'll be back to "normal".

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Moxie

I plan to do Thanksgiving for just the two of us. Normally, this would be the year for us to go to a gathering at DH's cousin's house. Her parents are elderly with a long list of major health problems. I doubt that she will want to host this year. If she does, I don't want to have even the slightest chance of making things worse for them. Her children are in their 20's which is the prime demographic for spreading COVID. Nice as they are, I'd rather not be indoors with them. I'd be willing to have DH's sister over, but she always declines my invitations because we have cats.

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LoneJack Zn 6a, KC

Not sure what we will end up doing for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year but I have a feeling that the 11 lb. Prime Rib roasts from the cow we butchered this spring won't be needed for Christmas dinner. LOL

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sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)

I do believe this holiday can be successful with precautions. Depends on where you live. And how serious your family and friends are. Prep and shop ahead. Delivery service or curb-side pick-up.

Hunker down for a week-14 days and enjoy those you trust to do just that. Get tested. Pretty simple. (not easy for many) but close family and friends not working in the public can be bubble safe.

My work world traditionally every year has Dec 20-January 3rd depending on the calendar. (this year may be five weeks). Children/ grand babies, off school...go into hibernation. A family bubble can have a very safe holiday.

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donna_loomis

Like Moxie, we'll be having Thanksgiving for two. My extended family still has birthday parties and other get togethers, go as a group to comedy clubs and such. I've seen the pictures they've posted on FB. My own children are not allowed inside my home. Sad? Yes. Paranoid? Maybe. But my husband is in a high risk group and I want to spend as many years as I can with him. I've had my grandchildren over for dinner a couple of times, but always outside, well spaced. I'm sure Christmas will be the same.

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Lynda (Zn9b/23 - Central CA Coast)

We will host the holidays at our home as we always have. We have a very small family and are not in a high risk group, so it is a pretty easy decision. I am sad to realize how many people won't be able to spend the holidays with their families.

We flew home from overseas in March. We had been on a 3 1/2 week trip, when Covid exploded. I have travelled a lot and it was one of the more pleasant trips as the plane (and customs line) was empty. I would fly again. I don't worry about flying or getting sick, but I do worry that I will get stuck in a foreign country and be unable to return.

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Cloud Swift

Like Plllog, it's the holidays for us now. We did Passover via Zoom when it wasn't clear how long social distancing would last. It has been very strange going through the High Holidays without being able to gather for prayer. Our congregation has done a wonderful job of dealing with having only on-line services as best as possible, especially the cantor.

Our kid's are all within driving distance - the closest lives a few miles away and the others are around 100 miles. They are all serious about social distancing - in some cases they have medical reasons in their families to be extra careful.

As it has become clear how long this would last, we decided that it was okay to see each other. It has helped the families to at least have a change of scenery for a bit and we have been able to give the parents a break by taking care of the grandkids for a few days every few weeks.

We had a family gathering for Rosh Hashanah dinner and we are planning on another one for Sukkot. During Sukkot, one eats meals outside in a sukkah - a temporary structure built for the holiday. So, on another night we will have another couple over. We had an outside brunch at their house this summer and they are people I trust to have been socially distancing.

If getting together required flying, I'd be very hesitant to do it.

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jane__ny

We retired to Florida. Our daughter and family live in Connecticut. We always split the holidays. We flew up to her and they came for Christmas. This year it will just be me and my husband and son (who moved down here near us).


Our daughter just drove down from Ct. last week by herself to see us. Took her 3 days. She did not want to stay in motels so she booked Air B&B houses for the trip down. Frankly I thought that was weird, but she didn't trust motels because of the air ventilation systems.

When she got here, she had Googled, 'quick Covid testing' and found one near us and went for the test. It cost $70.00, they accept no insurance, and she got the test. In 10 minutes she got the test results which were negative. We felt so relieved and she stayed with us for 10 days. It was wonderful and I wish my granddaughters were with her, but they are in school

I'm 71 and hubby 88. We will not get on a plane and I'm not sure I could drive 2000 miles to be near them for the holidays.

So Thanksgiving and Christmas will just be me and my husband and son, if he gets tested first.

Jane




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