Due to the ongoing pandemic happening around the world, multiple countries and municipalities imposed strict protocols to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Bay Area is also no exception to this rule, and it looks like the state will not celebrate this year’s holidays like how they usually go in the past. For Bay Area families wanting to spend Thanksgiving with loved ones all across the nation, it would have to wait for next time, unfortunately.

The country continues to battle against the unseen virus to help minimize new additional cases and avoid overwhelming medical settings with too many patients. With only a week away before the Thanksgiving celebrations, American families are having a hard time deciding on when to gather together to commemorate it despite the current pandemic conditions.

As evidenced by the spiking increase of COVID-19 cases across the nation, Santa Clara resident Jaymie Slaughter knew that she could not spend the Thanksgiving season in Arizona with her daughter’s family. Additionally, her African American husband Ron often gets sickly due to old age, rendering it impossible for both of them to go outside and travel to another town.

However, Slaughter’s daughter has other plans. Her daughter ponders over the idea of doing cross-household celebrations for Christmas and Thanksgiving, meaning she wishes to celebrate each holiday in Arizona and Santa Clara. But when Slaughter called her to inform her that she and her husband wouldn’t be flying to Arizona soon, the tension between the family members rose even further. Her daughter ended the phone call shortly after, and none of them talked to the other ever since.

Coming to terms with making unsure decisions to spend the holidays with family relatives coming from different locations only serve as a reminder that the pandemic is far from coming to a close. Moreover, the current federal politicization happening adds more to the stress and anxiety that many American households feel toward the worldly crisis. According to Slaughter, she felt the tension occurring among political officials reflect that of what is currently happening among families. For instance, she mentioned the controversial issues arising in the country, such as anti-maskers and the division of legislative parties.

UC Berkeley infectious disease specialist John Swartzberg noted that the pandemic’s timing is off, especially when it is happening during the holiday season. Swartzberg also mentioned that this year is not the time to celebrate something that we used to do every year, fearing that this may be the last time to do it if people still insist and risk their lives out there.

To address the increasing family conflicts during the pandemic, San Francisco family mediators, Mullin and Alice Shikina, shared several tips to help family members cope and get together despite the ongoing crisis:

Firstly, schedule face-to-face talks from time-to-time. For family members living in different locations, video calls are better to do than only conversing through voice calls. Mullin suggested this tactic to avoid miscommunications from happening, especially during difficult family conversations.

Secondly, learn how to listen to your family members. Shikina recommended this strategy to help others feel heard and understood rather than raising voices and trying to talk over another person to get your points across. The act of listening can help strengthen familial bonds and understanding.

Thirdly, when making phone calls, try to be transparent and honest towards the other person at the end of the line. According to Shikina, being straightforward could help others become aware of what you think and feel and vice versa. When talking to a family member via phone call, being honest could also prevent verbal fights from ensuing. She also mentioned that when people get upset, they cannot think or speak straight, so keeping a truthful and level-headed mind could aid in making meaningful conversations.