How to get together safely during the holidays

The holidays are quickly approaching. There is no question that Covid 19 will test our patience, bring fears to the surface, and increase what is already a stressful experience for many. The key to success is how we plan so it is successful and safe for everyone. I have not seen my 84 year old parents since last Thanksgiving and while Zoom has been a great benefit, it does not check the boxes.

Here are 6 steps for a successful holiday experience that I am taking:

  1. Communicate:  It is critical everybody understands the others concerns and fears.  Talk openly about them. What is behind them? Define the “Musts Haves” versus the “Wants.” Understand the implications of each person’s view.
  2. Align on a plan: Do not try to convince others of what you want. Focus on the “Must Haves” first then work the plan to meet the wants as best as possible.
  3. Stop and think: Give everyone a chance to reflect on the plan and the tradeoffs they may be required to make.  
  4. Adjust to new information from anyone in the group:  This is not a negotiation trying to convince others you are right and they are wrong and convince them to “Just go with it.” This is a time to – if possible –  build around the most restrictive needs.
  5. Be willing to cancel at the last minute:  Last minute concerns can arise and things can change quickly. Be willing to accept that without holding it against anyone.
  6. Take recommended precautions while you are together.

In reality, this is what our plan looks like based on the steps above: My wife and oldest son, who is 24 years old are driving from Boston to Virginia to pick-up my college daughter then heading two more hours south to my parents in Virginia. The three of us all work from home and have been symptom free. My college daughter gets tested every week and has also been clear. We will all be tested a day before we leave and will quarantine before heading to my parents. We will drive straight, only stopping for gas andestrooms. Our plan is to spend 6 days with my parents. Other than outside at a social distance, we will not see others while visiting. We will drive back in one day. 

This may sound arduous and complicated, but the benefits from such a well-planned trip are tremendous. The virus has isolated many of us, and making this effort will reunite our family for some much needed bonding. I do hope you get to see your family as well. Be safe and sound when doing so.

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