The holiday season can wait

On any Thanksgiving, you’ll find my household buzzing with conversation, as the aroma of ham, macaroni and mashed potatoes fills the air in each room.

Friends, and the little family I have in the United States, as a first-generation Mexican American, gather to eat under my mother’s cornucopia painting that covers the vast dining room wall.

In Mexico, we didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. But when my family left everything behind to start a new life in the U.S., I thought it would be a good idea for us to use this day to reflect on the sacrifices we’ve made and how grateful we are for the opportunities we’ve received in life.

So, I took everything I learned from watching “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” and assimilated, learning to cook everything from the turkey to the pumpkin pie for the five of us.

As we made more friends over the years, they joined us at the Thanksgiving table to share our traditions.

But this year, with expected coronavirus surges and most of my family still back home in Mexico, the in-person tradition is on hold until further notice.

With circumstances beyond our control, we have been put in a situation where we must ask ourselves if it’s really worth traveling and gathering with family this year to celebrate the holiday season.

Thanksgiving represents a time where families can gather and go around expressing what they are thankful for, while eating large sums of food and awaiting Black Friday deals.

As COVID-19 records continue to break nationwide, we must consider staying home this holiday season to protect ourselves and the people we love, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that an additional 7,300 to 16,000 people will die from Nov. 16 to Dec. 12 as a result of the virus.

Although people may be testing negative of COVID-19 ahead of their family gathering, it does not guarantee anyone’s health because there is still a possibility that the person can contract the virus before Thanksgiving.

In addition, testing negative on a COVID-19 test does not necessarily mean a person does not have the virus. Negative tests may occur if it is too early in the infection for the virus to be detected or it is a false negative.

So, while it is important to prevent large gatherings this holiday season to stop the spread of the virus, it does not mean the holiday fun has to end.

This year, I still plan on cooking for family and friends, but we will be meeting in an online setting, an unexpected change to our usual traditions.

After delivering plates to those who plan on joining us, we will meet via Zoom, where it was announced on Twitter that they would be removing their 40-minute limit for meetings on Thanksgiving so families can gather there.

If your traditions include gathering and watching holiday movies together, download the Netflix Party extension to host a Thanksgiving viewing party for friends and family.

However, if your holiday plans involve gathering with family, make sure it is done in an outdoor setting as locations with poor ventilation pose a greater risk of being exposed to the virus.

Furthermore, touching should be limited because although they are our loved ones and we want to embrace them, their health should be our main concern. So, remember to keep a distance of 6 feet.

It is important to be courteous of other’s health and stop the spread so that we can ensure that these celebrations and traditions continue for more years to come.

I know I’d rather celebrate Thanksgiving via Zoom than be hospitalized for COVID-19 during Christmas and New Year.

I want to be able to smell the aroma of the ham and macaroni as I take them out of the oven, not have long swabs stuck up my nose.

That is why this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for my health as I am able to continue my traditions and spend time with my friends and family online.

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