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Changing holiday plans? Tips to navigate tricky conversations

Posted at 7:23 AM, Nov 24, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — There is nothing quite like celebrating a holiday by sharing a meal and memories with your family. Last year, so many of us missed those moments because of Covid.

This year, there's still anxiety, Michigan has the highest infection rate in the country and hospitalizations are climbing.

You might not feel as safe gathering around the Thanksgiving table, or maybe you're re-thinking your plans.

Telling your family how you feel might be the hardest part of all.

"Where it gets complicated. Certainly, it comes down to family dynamics and emotion surrounding the pandemic, because people are tired," said Dr. Lyndsay Volpe-Bertram, psychologist with Spectrum Health.

Dr. Volpe-Bertram said first deciding what your boundaries are and sticking to it.

"This is our limit, we're only going to interact with people who are vaccinated over the holidays, it's not that we don't love you, it's not that we don't care about you. But this is what we're doing for our own families, you know, safety and best interest," said Volpe-Bertram.

Next, tell your loved ones clearly and directly why you're making that decision.

"If somebody is very heated or upset or disappointed, you want to take a few minutes to acknowledge that and just let them know, I understand like you miss us, I understand the holidays are really important, or I hear that you're seeing, you know these things."

Volpe-Bertram continued, "Even acknowledging something that you really valued about those interactions in the past, showing a sense of gratitude for the interactions and the holidays that you've been looking forward to or hopeful to regain in the future can also really be beneficial."

Most likely, whatever you decide will be best for you and your loved ones. "I think that is ultimately what is going to drive us to really try to make healthy safe decisions is thinking, if something happened, if I were to spread something, how comfortable would I be after that, with my decision making with my process" said Volpe-Bertram.