Not giving Grandma COVID-19 is this holiday season’s best gift

Experts discuss when, how to say no to gatherings if safety is not a priority

 October 19, 2020 | By Kristin Samuelson

When family members disagree about COVID-19 safety precautions, planning holiday celebrations is fraught with conflict and potential health risk. And with the recent spike in positive cases of the virus, should we be gathering at all?  

“If an extended family member insists on dismissing guidance, it’s OK to sit out this year’s family gathering. It’s really sad and difficult, but we have to think about our own core values,” said Northwestern Medicine psychiatrist Dr. Aderonke Pederson, an instructor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “If you start from a standpoint of, ‘My number one core value is doing my part to protect my family,’ that’s the greatest gift you can give your family this holiday season.”

Pederson and Northwestern Medicine critical care physician and pulmonologist Dr. Benjamin Singer shared their perspectives on the upcoming holiday season, including what is safe and realistic this year amid the pandemic, how to navigate sensitive situations such as needing to decline an event one deems unsafe, and the need to normalize the idea of celebrating the holidays remotely. 

Have smaller, socially distanced gathering

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