Canada’s Thanksgiving Can Help Us Plan

We usually love Thanksgiving. It’s a time to gather with our families, reflect on our blessings and eat delicious food together. This year it’s all different. With COVID-19, people are staying apart. Families are weighing whether to join together. Other families feel comfortable with various measures. A lot of families can’t agree amongst themselves what feels safest.

This year, many people plan to head outdoors, have much smaller celebrations, skip it entirely or quarantine before the day to be safe seeing older family members. Canada’s Thanksgiving may be an unfortunate cautionary tale we can learn from. Their Thanksgiving is the second Monday in October. That made it a sort of test case for ours. The Canadian government gave the same advice that ours has: the safest Thanksgiving is one with the people in your household. But, just like here, people made their own choices. Now, they are seeing surges in cases.

People did not mean to spread COVID-19,” said Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health. “But it is a reminder that social gatherings where distancing and masking are not used consistently are a significant risk for spread.”

The weather is cold now. In some places, it’s hard to gather outside. Thanksgiving is an intergenerational holiday, with kids coming home from college and family coming from far away. Thanksgiving is usually one of the busiest traveling days of the year as people go to see family. One gathering with extended family led to 10 people becoming infected, including three infants. It went from the party to two people in a workplace and four people in another home. The first party was inside a house.

We need to pay more attention to those settings where we have people coming together for celebrations,” Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s provincial health officer, after record numbers of new cases.

The CDC has said staying home is the safest way to celebrate. But, if you are going to celebrate, it seems that what we can take away from Canada’s horrible situation is that gatherings should be kept small and outside. Places where there isn’t enough circulation and everyone speaks without a mask are dangerous. Even if you have been very careful, you don’t know what your nephew did at college before coming home. And you don’t know who might feel under the weather but keeps quiet about it. After months of not seeing each other, someone might not say anything if they don’t feel well for the chance to see their family!

The safest thing you can do is stay at home. The next best is to stay local and outside, keep your mask on, your hand sanitizer out and not hug your loved ones. Having an outdoor, socially distanced Thanksgiving this year means that next year’s might be normal. Pecan pie is just as delicious outside!

Banner image: nikohoshi via Unsplash
November 04, 2020

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