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How To Cancel Your Holiday Plans, With Love

As COVID-19 cases continue to increase at an alarming rate, families are rethinking plans to gather in-person for the holidays.
Brandon Price
As COVID-19 cases continue to increase at an alarming rate, families are rethinking plans to gather in person for the holidays.

With coronavirus cases increasing at an alarming rate across the U.S., public health officials advise families to cancel any plans for a big Thanksgiving dinner this year.

But what do you do when your family is not on the same page?

“As we’ve seen, there are two approaches to how to handle the pandemic,” clinical psychologist Marva Robinson said Wednesday on St. Louis on the Air. “It’s kind of difficult to compromise on something like this, so it definitely does add a new level of stress to the holidays and determining what your alternative plans will be.”

Whether you are planning to gather in person or not, Robinson suggested not trying to force the same holiday traditions. Instead, the adjunct faculty member at Webster University and member of the Association of Black Psychologists urged listeners to find new ways to celebrate and connect with family and friends.

“Turn it into the holiday that you would want it to be,” she said. “If Thanksgiving is about being thankful and having a great experience, then what does that look like for you? And for some, it doesn’t include doing dishes or cooking. It looks like maybe catching a movie, or renting something, or painting.”

She added, “Being creative this year is definitely the goal... so you can still enjoy the time and not so much focus on what you’re missing, but keeping the focus on what you do have and what you’re thankful for.”

And if social distancing means you’re by yourself this Thanksgiving, Robinson said to “shift the focus.”

“You may be alone physically, but you don’t have to be in spirit, right? So [try] making a list of your favorite things and engaging in those,” she said. “This will really be a staycation where you can surround yourself with some of your favorite things — things you have not had time for, and just really take the time out for yourself.”

Robinson added that giving back to your community is a great way to celebrate the holidays as well.

“What you would have normally cooked as a huge dinner, you may be able to drop off and give to someone else,” she said.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.