Heading Home for the Holidays! Or Not?

Is it finally safe to visit family for a Christmas gathering?

Lauren Roper-Jefferson, Contributor

The holidays somehow always bring out the warmth and cheer even in the coldest hearts. With this notion, people feel the need to share their joy with the ones they love. Of course, no one questions a set of parents gathering their child(ren) around the tree, but ever since the deadly virus swept throughout the world, people hold different opinions about gathering for the holidays with extended family and friends. Last year in 2020, things were different in that the virus numbers were higher, and hospitals in our area were struggling. This year it is different in that the current numbers are lower, though the numbers are slowly climbing as people spend more time indoors, have holiday events, and unmask. 

Let’s review the pros and cons of visiting extended family over the holidays. 


Due to quarantine, families haven’t been able to meet face-to-face with other family or friends as often as they like, especially if they live out of state. It’s hard to resist heading over and giving them giant hugs. Plus, there are precautions that could be set in place to prevent anyone from being affected negatively by the encounters. Masking up whenever you socialize indoors will decrease the chances of infection. Sleep in separate rooms, unless you already live in the same household with that relative. Always carry hand sanitizer and scrub your hands a good percentage of the time you’re there. Remember common courtesy and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and you should be good to go. Multiple health agencies have said that vaccinated family members, in particular, are pretty safe for holiday get-togethers, especially when combined with these other safety measures. 


Are children going to attend? It’s hard to keep their hands clean. They touch things and stick fingers in their mouths, and common courtesy might have not reached them yet. Keeping a mask on their faces may also be worrisome. If you have high-risk family members, you might need to take extra precautions with them. If your space isn’t well-ventilated, you might consider opening a few windows. If you or a family member is sick, you should not attend the gathering and this should be a no-brainer. Some families might even go as far as making sure every member that will be at the event is vaccinated. I would also advise social distancing even indoors, as much as possible.

Final Thoughts

Since there are no laws, at least in Alabama, regarding social distancing and mask-wearing, especially with company, it is solely up to the families how they execute the meetup. I think each family will have to determine what is best for them. Safety precautions suggested by the CDC could help you have a “safe as possible” holiday with your loved ones, and I think it’s better to be safe than sorry.