How to handle saying ‘no’ to family gatherings this Thanksgiving

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — Health officials have urged people to avoid getting together with family members outside of the household this Thanksgiving as COVID-19 numbers continue to surge.

Breaking family tradition will be difficult for many, according to Dr. Eric French, Medical Director of Adult Psychiatric Services at HealthONE Behavioral Health and Wellness Center.

“I just had this conversation with my mom and it was very challenging,” said French. 

When telling family you won’t be joining them for Thanksgiving, French recommends using a specific approach.

“I love my family too much to put them in harm’s way. I think that’s really where I’d keep the conversation,” said French.

He encourages people to have compassion and avoid placing blame on anyone.

“I think people are walking into the season with a lot more on their plates in terms of stress, anxiety, depression. It just becomes even more important to be self-aware of how we’re managing these things,” said French.

French says it’s normal to feel a sense of guilt or depression over not being able to spend time with family. He says creativity may be the key to fighting those feelings around Thanksgiving gatherings.

He recommends having meals together over a video call, cooking the same recipe as family members in other homes and dropping off meals for those who might not be able to cook for themselves.

“I think there are options and ways to be on the same page even if we’re not in the same room. People should try to focus more on those efforts,” said French.

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