Pandemic Holidays, Season 2: Are You Gathering This Time?

NBC 7 heard from families and visitors in San Diego about their plans for Thanksgiving gatherings

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It’s not the first time we’ve had to navigate the holidays during a pandemic. With Thanksgiving a week away, NBC 7 asked people around town if they're planning on attending large or small family gatherings.

NBC7 also spoke with a psychiatrist about how to deal with the awkward conversations surrounding vaccination status and comfort levels.

You’ve probably had to re-arrange or even cancel plans this past year and a half. But during the holidays, navigating family, friends, turkey and safety can be extra emotional.

Mary Tengra, visiting San Diego from Dallas, Texas, explained how the gathering she’s attending next week will be missing a few people due to their discomfort with unvaccinated people.

“A little bit of awkwardness in the beginning of the planning, like OK, well they live there and they’re not coming,” Tengra explained.

Dave Hofmeister and his wife, visiting from Milwaukee, Wisonsin, are not vaccinated but staying with friends who are on Thanksgiving.

“I know it gets a little awkward around vaccines. We have both had COVID and at 70 years old we both survived it. So we’re not too terrified about it anymore,” said Hofmeister. “I’m not too worried about the people we know. We are all on the same page. The reason they got vaccinated is because they didn’t have COVID and I don’t hold that against them. I would’ve done that too," Hofmeister said.

Vida Perez and her mom Monique Perez said they are looking forward to the holidays, but will remain cautious.

“I respect people’s choices, but obviously I have a toddler and they’re like the last people when it comes to vaccinations and stuff,” Perez said.

Psychotherapist Dr. Kristie Overstreet offered a few tips for those navigating it all, big or small.

“If you’re hosting it, give the individual an idea of what they’re walking into. A sense of what type of space because it’s not your responsibility as a host to separate and prep everyone,” Overstreet said.

If you’re a guest or host, suggest ideas like eating in shifts, seating arrangements or eating outside.

“It’s important to not get defensive if there’s that person that has a totally different view than you. Say, 'You know what? It’s going to be their decision, everyone has the right to their opinion,'” Overstreet said.

Whatever you do, be prepared at the table ahead of time.

“How might I answer this if I get asked by aunt Jane about blank? What might I say that will help me feel alright about myself and that answer,” Overstreet said.

Stephanie Moore, also visiting from Dallas, said there won’t be any awkward conversation at her dinner table.

“Everybody is fully vaccinated, including boosted. Even my 5-year-old granddaughter has already had her first shot,” said Moore.

For now, Tengra expects it to just be part of life, but hopes sometime soon the only awkwardness she needs to deal with is her complicated dinner order.

“I’m a gluten-free vegetarian," Tengra said.

Lastly, Overstreet suggests approaching this Thanksgiving with gratitude and flexibility.

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