Editorial | Demonstrate gratitude by avoiding family gatherings

As backward as it may seem, the best way to demonstrate how thankful you are for your loved ones this year is to stay away from them.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has upended every aspect of our lives, and now everyone must manage the reality that the pandemic has claimed the holiday season. Despite warnings from health officials and the government, many will still travel across the country to gather with their family for Thanksgiving.

Many Americans have weighed the costs and the benefits when making decisions during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The trouble is, the costs can be nebulous and difficult to measure as it is difficult for one to grasp how one might personally contribute to the spread of the virus.

Rather than take the word of health officials that big Thanksgiving Day gatherings will have deadly consequences, look at Canada. Canada celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October, a little over a month before the United States observes its version of the holiday. According to a rolling average compiled by John Hopkins University, Canadian Thanksgiving led to a massive spike in daily coronavirus cases in the Great White North.

Although it will be tough, one must recognize that exposing oneself to other family members, particularly those seldom seen, undermines efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Masks and hand-sanitizer aren’t ideal for a holiday traditionally celebrated by sharing the same dinner dishes, but the risks for not following state guidelines are steep.

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Think of those who don’t have a choice in the matter. Any faculty members or students who test positive for coronavirus this week or are exposed to someone who tests positive will almost certainly miss celebrating Thanksgiving with their families. If for nothing else, one should show solidarity with these fellow Illini by social distancing for Thanksgiving.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled a responsible list of considerations for Thanksgiving Day gatherings. These rules represent the best path to avoiding record hospitalizations through Christmas. If Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade can comply with crowd guidelines, so can your family.

Additionally, the University administration requested adherence to certain demands through a recent Massmail: Get tested before you leave, and if you can, don’t come back after the break. All in-person instruction is suspended after fall break.

Although physical touch is traditionally a “love-language,” this year, the best “love-language” is no contact with a six-foot distance. A hug or refusal to wear a mask may endanger loved ones in your life, so if not for yourself, keep them in your mind this year as you embody the festive spirit and give thanks.