With how difficult this year has been for many people it is understandable that most will be looking forward to a big Thanksgiving feast with all the family from near and far gathered around the table. However; the situation in the United States with the Covid-19 pandemic is ever changing and many are wondering will it be safe to have the typical big holiday dinner in 2020. Right now the United States is seeing an increase in Covid-19 cases in many states so the risk for contracting the disease remains high.

However; that does not mean we cannot create new traditions and find safe ways to connect with our families during the holiday season. The CDC is recommending that individuals keep Thanksgiving celebrations as small as possible this year. The goal is to find ways to celebrate while minimizing possible risk of exposure to Covid-19. That does mean cancel the turkey and all the fixings, but to successfully limit exposure, have the turkey meal with your current household and avoid the big blowout Black Friday sales in crowded stores and malls.

If you just can’t bear the thought of missing out on certain Thanksgiving traditions, try to find ways to enjoy them more safely. That could mean doing all of your holiday shopping online, watching even local parades from home on TV (The Macy’s Thanks giving Day Parade will still be on!), or swapping recipes in advance with extended family members and connecting virtually on the holiday itself. Another idea is to get together in the morning outdoors for a socially distant “turkey trot”.

Another option might be to host a small, socially distanced outdoor celebration, especially in areas of the country that continue to enjoy more temperate weather even in late November. This could reduce the risk of both droplet and aerosol transmission.

The most important thing to do this Thanksgiving is to minimize your chance of COVID-19 exposure whenever you can. That is especially true if you have cancer patients or other family members in the household who are at high risk of contracting the virus or developing severe complications if they should catch it. And, if you have a college student or other family member who is coming home from out of town, ask them to get tested before traveling to see you, and consider having everyone in the house wear a mask and observe social distancing measures during their visit.

Thanksgiving 2020 is not going to be the typical day, just as 2020 has not been a typical year. However, there are ways to still celebrate with friends and family in safe manner, honor the spirit of the day and create some new traditions.