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Tips For Gathering And Supporting Family

The month of December includes several holidays, including Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Solstice. Many people enjoy gathering together to celebrate with members of their families during these holiday celebrations. For best results, follow these tips for gathering and supporting family members.

Plan Gatherings Around The Most Vulnerable Family Members

CNBC News reported advice from Dr. Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois Chicago. Her number one piece of advice is to plan gatherings around the most vulnerable family members. Vulnerable communities include people who are immunocompromised, children, and elderly people.

Dr. Wallace listed the following examples of how to support vulnerable family members. Take a COVID test before going to a gathering. Stay home if you feel any symptoms, even if it feels like allergies. Get up to date on your COVID and flu vaccines. Wear a mask especially if there is a vulnerable family member. Wash hands frequently (this works best against RSV).

Following those directions means a lot. It shows that you care enough about vulnerable family members to keep them as safe as possible during a family gathering. Many immunocompromised people end up missing out on social events because the venue isn’t safe for them. You can support them by following Dr. Wallace’s advice.

Set Boundaries

Psychology Today provided some excellent information about setting boundaries with family members from Constance Scharff, Ph.D. The boundaries are ones you set for yourself so that you can participate in a family gathering without it turning into an extremely negative experience.

It is ok to choose not to drink at an event, even if others are drinking. It is ok to walk away from a heated discussion about politics. This could mean walking away from a cousin who wants to discuss politics that you find distasteful or sitting far away from an aunt who spouts bigoted views. 

Another option is to limit time spent with the most difficult people. No one is required to like everyone to whom they are related or who are invited to a family event. Limit the time you spend with those people. Spend your time with the relatives who enjoy your company.

Provide Support To Those Grieving

It is hard to lose someone you love. There are many people who will be grieving the loss of their loved ones during the December holiday season. These overwhelming feelings can make it difficult for them to enjoy family gatherings.

Los Angeles Times provides some information, written by Jaclyn Cosgrove, about how to support your family and friends that are grieving through the holidays. One thing to keep in mind is that people who are grieving might also be feeling a mix of emotions. For example, a person might want to celebrate a holiday while also feeling sad about the person who has died.

You can support these family members by letting them talk about the person they are grieving. Don’t change the subject. Find a way to honor the person who is no longer here. It could be as simple as setting a place for them at dinner or lighting a candle to honor them. 

Related Articles On Families.com:

Ways To Gather With Family During December

CDC Recommends Safer Ways To Celebrate Holidays

How To Have an Eco-Friendly Christmas