12/14/2020 | By Rachel Marsh

With COVID-19 rates spiking, health officials are urging Americans not to travel this holiday season. 

The CDC explains, “Travel may increase your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. CDC continues to recommend postponing travel and staying home, as this is the best way to protect yourself and others this year.”

In order to protect the health and wellbeing of your loved ones – particularly those who are seniors or at-risk due to various health conditions –  you may have decided to stay home for Christmas this year.

But, even though you know it’s in the best interest of everyone involved, it can still be very difficult to make that decision; and even more difficult to have that conversation. So we’ve put together some tips on how to tell your family you’re not coming home for Christmas – and how to make the best of the holiday regardless.

Tell Them Sooner Rather Than Later

Once you’ve made the decision not to go home for Christmas – or, even while you’re trying to decide – it’s important to tell your family as soon as possible.

Sure, the procrastinator in you will be tempted to keep putting it off (while visions of “maybe something will change by Christmas” danced in their heads). But the sooner you tell them, the sooner they can adapt, accept, and make plans accordingly.

Remember: It’s Not an Excuse, It’s a Reason

Try to keep in mind that your decision not to come home has nothing to do with whether you want to or not; it’s all about safety. Health experts and researchers all heavily advise against travel in general; but particularly during cold and flu season, COVID-19 is more likely to spike.

By following the advice of the CDC and well-trained health experts, you’re not making excuses for having to miss the holiday. You’re offering solid reasoning, and putting the health of your loved ones above temporary wants and needs.

Be Understanding, and Validate Their Feelings

Every family and every situation is different. While some may be understanding when you tell your family you’re not coming home for Christmas, others may be more resistant.

If your family has a hard time taking the news, try your best to be empathetic.

  • Make it clear that you understand their disappointment. You and your family are both on the same side here – it’s the virus that’s to blame.
  • Emphasize how much you also want to be there. It may feel natural to get defensive, especially if the guilt starts to pile on. But remind your family that you made this decision based on their health and safety.
  • Be honest about your feelings, too. You’re likely struggling with this weighty verdict as well; it helps if everyone involved keeps open communication.

There Are Ways to Celebrate Safely!

It’s not the same as enjoying festivities together in person, but we do have some suggestions for how to celebrate the holidays virtually:

  • Dine together. At dinnertime, fill up your plate and hop on Zoom or FaceTime with your family. It might feel more like the “real thing” than you think.
  • Watch your favorite holiday movie at the same time. You can, again, use some sort of video chat method (although you’ll have to figure out the volume situation). Or you can live text during it!
  • Play games. There are plenty of virtual games that can be enjoyed over video chat, in addition to verbal games like I Spy or Bingo.
  • Share memories from past Christmases. This one is pretty self explanatory…

Find even more tips on how to celebrate Christmas safely and virtually here! 

If You Do Go Home for the Holidays…

If, ultimately, you decide that you’ve taken proper precautions and it seems safe enough to go home, be sure to continue your precaution-taking. Follow these tips from the CDC:

  • Wear a mask indoors, even when you’re not in direct contact with someone else, as the virus can linger.
  • Wash and sanitize your hands even more than you think is necessary.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth, and mask.
  • Bring your own food and drinks, and/or use disposable food containers, plates, forks, etc.
  • Get a flu shot before you travel.
  • Spend as much time outdoors as possible.
  • Isolate yourself as much as possible for at least 10 days before you leave and get a COVID test.

And Just Remember!

There’s already a vaccine for the coronavirus, with multiple others on the way. So, will this be the only holiday you have to tell your family you’re not coming home for Christmas? The chances are getting better all the time.

Just like every other pandemic this world has ever faced, keep in mind: this too shall pass!

Rachel Marsh

Award-winning writer Rachel Marsh has written for many different sites and publications on a variety of topics. She is the multimedia editor for Seniors Guide and works hard to make sure seniors and their families have the best information possible. When she’s not writing for work, she can be found writing for fun. Really!

Rachel Marsh