How to Tell Your Family You're Not Coming to Thanksgiving This Year!

Staying home and skipping your family’s Thanksgiving gathering this year because of COVID? Many people are opting to skip their usual travel plans and festivities to minimize risks and help keep everyone healthy. But that means breaking the news to your relatives that you’re not coming home and no matter how old you are, saying “no” to your parents and family can be tough. So what’s the best way to do it? This is how to let them down with love.

  • Accept the blame- Tell them, “I understand you don’t feel it’s risky, but I don’t want it on my conscience.” Explain that you’re going to be 100% responsible and they can be upset, but you don’t want anything to happen to them.
  • Validate their feelings- Once you tell them you’re not coming, be open to listening to and validating their feelings. Remind them that you’re tired of being isolated, too, and that this is hard for you, but you’re doing it because you care about them.
  • State your case directly- Go with the matter-of-fact approach to make your point.
  • Use facts- And as many as possible! Cases are on the rise and small gatherings are contributing to that. You can use this guide to holiday celebrations from the CDC to back you up.
  • Let them know you’d rather be there- Emphasize how much you love them and that you would prefer to spend Thanksgiving together, but health and safety come first.
  • Think of this year as an anomaly- This year’s holiday celebrations won’t look like the ones we’re used to, but it’s not the “new normal,” it’s just for this high-risk year.
  • Modify traditions- Try to include as many of your family’s traditions as you can, with tweaks to make up to safety standards. If you can’t be together in person, you can cook on Zoom together from your own homes and watch the Thanksgiving Day parade online together.
  • Have something to look forward to- A future celebration can take away some of the loneliness of a quiet turkey day. Maybe you plan a Thanksgiving in July celebration for next year to make this holiday sting a little less.

Photo: Getty Images


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