Families often come together from far away for Thanksgiving—but maybe they shouldn't this year?

In preparation for the holiday season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published guidance on safely celebrating Thanksgiving.

"Thanksgiving is a time when many families travel long distances to celebrate together," the CDC report reads. "Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others."

This is, in technical medical jargon, a "major bummer." While a nice dinner to catch up with all your extended family might seem nice, the CDC categorizes "large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household" as a high-risk activity.

The CDC gives a few ideas on how to go about Thanksgiving this year.

You might consider these "Low-Risk Activities" as suggested by the CDC:

  • Have a small dinner with only people who live in your household
  • Prepare meals (a secret family recipe, perhaps?) to contactless-ly deliver to family and neighbors
  • Host a virtual dinner (with coordinated food, maybe?) with friends and family
  • Shop online rather than in person for Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • Watch sports, parades, and movies from home

Skip the Crowds

Thanksgiving season often comes with parades, sporting events, races, and bustling shopping days—all of which are densely packed. The CDC warns that "gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people" and suggests people "avoid crowded, poorly ventilated, or fully enclosed indoor spaces."

The Thanksgiving guidance characterizes these as "High-Risk Activities":

  • Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving
  • Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race
  • Attending crowded parades
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household

"If you must travel, be informed of the risks involved," reads the CDC webpage.

While the idyllic Thanksgiving scene is a warm, familial meal with many good friends and neighbors to share the cheer, this year is a little different. But that doesn't mean the spirit of Thanksgiving won't be present.

Do you have any ideas for celebrating Thanksgiving this year? Or for spreading good feelings (not microbes) to those around you? Leave a comment with your ideas!