DEAR NATALIE: My husband is a big holiday person. He is already getting the tree out of the attic and wants the whole family together for Thanksgiving. I am not comfortable having 25 people over this year, especially because a lot of his family leans right and some of them aren’t taking Covid-19 seriously at all. I tried to explain to him that this is not the year for a big gathering, and that we need to think about this sensibly. We got into a big argument and he told me that the holidays are actually more important than ever. How do I get him to understand the risks? We both have elderly parents (in their 80s) and I don’t want to put anyone in harm’s way. Thoughts? —NO THANKS
DEAR NO THANKS: I’m with you on this one. I know people are disappointed. But as a nation, we haven’t laid the groundwork all year to have a safe holiday season with one another. The rational and responsible thing to do is to keep our holiday gatherings small this year and Zoom with our loved ones, instead. I appreciate your husband wanting to cheer everyone up. No one is stopping him from decorating, playing holiday music or movies, or baking cookies to send to family and friends. But, gathering is the wrong move right now. If you look at data from other countries like Canada--who recently celebrated their Thanksgiving--the Covid-19 numbers spiked shortly thereafter. Share that information with him. Remind him of your elderly parents and his parents. Remind him that there is no vaccine available to the masses yet. Remind him that the numbers of Covid-19 are not just high, but spiraling out of control in the United States. Share your thoughts on alternatives that are safe and still inclusive. You can now play games via Zoom, too, so encourage everyone to join in on some virtual fun. He would feel absolutely terrible if this holiday gathering led to someone getting sick or worse. Until there is a safe and free vaccine available and the number of infections decline significantly because people start taking this seriously, our holidays won’t be the same. Put your foot down. This is about something bigger than ourselves.
DEAR NATALIE: My family dynamics are complicated and I am particularly not looking forward to the holiday season this year. I really have no interest in seeing either of my parents. We don’t see eye to eye on anything and I don’t want tension. I also started seeing someone this past year and we are getting serious. She is really upset that I don’t want to introduce her to my parents over the holidays and is assuming it’s because she thinks that I’m not ready to commit. That’s not the case. In fact, I’m worried that if she meets them and sees how terrible they are, she won’t want to be with me. How can I convince her that skipping the holidays with my family is the best thing to do? —NO FAMILY TIME IS THE BEST TIME
DEAR NO FAMILY TIME IS THE BEST TIME: You need to just tell her what you told me. Just be completely honest, transparent and vulnerable with her about this. You don’t have to reveal all of the details of why you are estranged from your family, but tell her something so that she understands and empathizes with you. People seem to assume that everyone gets along with their parents--but not everyone does. Family dynamics can be incredibly tricky during the holiday season. You are allowed to take a break and this is the year to do it. No one should really be gathering this holiday season, as I said in the above question, so use that as a reason to sit this one out. In the meantime, take this opportunity to get to know your girlfriend better by sharing with her whatever you feel comfortable disclosing about your family. As an adult, you have the ability now to choose who you want to spend time with. You are no longer beholden to people who are hurtful or cause harm in any way. Give yourself the gift of peace this season. If your girlfriend is in tune with you, she then can be free to support you in the ways in which you need.
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