The holidays are almost here. This is our second COVID holiday season. For some families, it will be lovely. Being able to be connected to be family that you may have been separated from for a length of time during shelter in place orders. Other families continue to be polarized. Some members are vaccinated and some are not. Many vaccinated people choose to not be around unvaccinated people. If people are not vaccinated they may have very strong feelings about people that are vaccinated. Given this time of a country divided, I am seeing more and more families divided also.

I am concerned that some of these estrangements may not ever be reconciled. How do you dialogue with family that you feel like are not listening to facts? How do you avoid confrontations about these issues? Do you just make up an excuse as to why you are not going to Aunt Hilda’s for Thanksgiving or do you say you are not comfortable being around unvaccinated people? What about the people caught in the middle? Aunt Hilda wants everyone to come and doesn’t understand why you won’t eat with Uncle Billy who is not vaccinated and refuses to wear a mask. And both you and Uncle Billy feel like you are right so how do you even have a discussion?

I think each of us is and should set our boundaries around what feels safe to us. Some don’t feel safe in any crowd regardless of vaccines or masks. That is okay. We have (and are still) been traumatized by this past year and a half of COVID. Over 750 thousand Americans are gone. Many of us had our lives turned upside down not being able to visit friends and family, learning to work at home, or having to work when you did not feel safe doing so. Feeling anger and confusion about what was happening and how it was handled. Many of us are still navigating trauma symptoms. We may have lost family either to the illness or estrangement. People are still trying to figure out what is normal.

It is still a very tough time. I have no easy answers to this. I can say the following:

Take care of yourself in whatever manner you can.

Set your boundaries and keep them.

If your family has strong differing feelings you don’t have to engage in discussion or justify your decision. No is a complete sentence.

Create other communities or spend time with the people you feel safe and held by.

Remember we are still all just doing the best we can in a very challenging and unprecedented time in this country.

I hope you can enjoy whatever holidays you celebrate!