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Will December holiday gatherings be contentious as people argue over individual COVID-19 comfort levels, masking, and friends and family's vaccination/booster status in their homes? Experts from Northwestern Medicine have some tips about finessing the new COVID holiday etiquette by showing compassion and acceptance.
Honor where others are
Inger Burnett-Ziegler, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, says, "This holiday season it will be important for people to honor where their friends and family may be on the continuum of coping with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic." Zeigler goes on to say, "While some may be vaccinated, others may still be hesitant or chose not to be vaccinated. While some may be comfortable gathering indoors without masks, others may not. And still, some may have young unvaccinated children or an underlying chronic health condition that heightens their anxiety about COVID."
Benefit from divergent views
"We all have different ways of managing uncertainty — some people are more cautious for a good reason, while others prefer a more exploratory approach," says Jacqueline Gollan, a professor of psychiatry at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "Fear in response to uncertainty cannot be easily modified. Thus, we're better off simply acknowledging the differences and maintaining flexible interpretations and expectations. Rely on compassion and acceptance to get through the holidays."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regularly updates its guidance for holiday celebrations. If you decide to get together with family and friends, the CDC advises you to stay in small groups whenever possible and be aware of other risk factors. The CDC notes that its considerations for social gatherings should not replace any local or state safety laws.