It can be risky for kids to reunite with vulnerable relatives, especially if they attend in-person school or extracurricular activities, Clark said.
“With where we are at this moment in time, my advice would be find a substitute way to prioritize your children’s engagement with the family holiday traditions in a way that doesn’t involve different households getting together in person,” Clark suggested.
That advice was similar to an advisory issued last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommended people celebrate the holiday at home with their household.
People could still continue their traditions, but switch them up a little, Clark suggested. Everyone can make a family dish together via video call, for example. Get the kids to talk about what they will miss, then adapt to include a variation of that, whether it’s a particular food or a holiday decoration, she said.
“When you involve the kids in trying to come up with alternatives, it gives them back a little sense of control,” Clark said.
Dr. Amna Husain, a pediatrician and owner of Pure Direct Pediatrics in Marlboro, N.J., suggested putting these holidays in the context of all the other changes in 2020.
“We really have had to shift our frame of thinking and our gears quite a bit and pivot,” Husain said. “This is one of those times where we’re asking society to pivot again, from their traditions, from everything that we knew and thought and loved, to think of really the greater good and the public health.”
Husain suggested video chatting as a new tradition people could start and continue even in future years with relatives who aren’t able to attend holiday celebrations in person.
“We can still keep the tradition of saying what you’re grateful for. We can still all go around the table and say, we’re grateful. We might have Grandpa and Grandma on a laptop,” Husain said. “We’re all experiencing it in a different sort of way.”
Even with the stay-at-home recommendations, some people will gather with others from outside of their household, Husain acknowledged. Those who do should keep their guest lists as small as possible and abide by their state’s laws, she advised.