Please don’t kill your family.

Anyone who knows me knows that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The colonial aspect of it is pretty gross and now companies are trying to infringe on its sacredness by starting Black Friday sales on the actual day of Thanksgiving (I can’t eat turkey but still, #RespectTheBird ffs), but aside from these influences, the core of Thanksgiving is pretty wholesome. In my particular case, I spend the day with the people I love the very most and eat the most delicious food I’ve had all year. Worth noting is that I actually like my in laws and I do all the cooking. My father-in-law is a literal chef but my highkey control freak tendencies know no bounds. For those of you who don’t like the people you’re stuck with and end up being force-fed stovetop stuffing, I’m so sorry. You deserve better. You deserve incredible annual traditions like spanking the turkey.

Having said all this, maybe you’ll understand why it was so difficult for me to make the decision to stay in New Jersey this holiday season. Not just Thanksgiving, but its capitalist big brother Christmas as well. Nicholas and I have been married for over eight years now and we’ve never missed a holiday season with our families no matter where in the US we were – this will be the first time. Of course I’m sad about it. But I also feel like we’ve made the right choice.

I’m not here to spout articles at you or facts and figures. You have Google. I’m here to implore you not to accidentally hospitalize your family. The things I’ve been reading from hospital workers is terrifying. The number of people they’re seeing is well beyond anything that’s been seen the entire lifetime of COVID-19. Remember how vigilant we were back in April? And it still spread like wildfire? Now imagine millions of families across the United States disregarding all those precautions we followed back then and gathering with their extended family or friends indoors during what is traditionally the beginning of flu season.

No one ever thinks that they’re going to get COVID. And it’s true that many people who do get it are asymptomatic – but do you think your father, mother, grandparents, uncles, or aunts will be so lucky? How many of them have coexisting conditions? My father in law has COPD, my mother in law is diabetic. If they got this, it could easily kill them. And that’s without factoring in a health care system that is already being stretched to its limits.

Supplies and beds are only one part of it, too. Imagine how burnt out health care workers are after dealing with this for basically nine months. If you read anything from health care workers, they are begging people to stay home. They don’t want your applause. They don’t want your cute yard sign. They want you to fucking listen to them.

So what can you do instead? I understand not wanting to sit in your hotel room on the east coast, gazing out of a second floor window overlooking the nearby woods as you contemplatively swirl a glass of apple cider in your hand. It’s not for everyone. Though, personally, I’m kind of looking forward to doing that. Here’s a few nice suggestions for what you can do to still connect with your family this year.

Or, God forbid, just call your family members. Video chat or traditional style, whichever. Yeah, it sucks to not be with them this year. But don’t you want to have more Thanksgivings with them down the road? If so, do the right thing. Stay home this Thanksgiving. And know that you’re not really alone. We’re all in this together.

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