COVID-19 Updates

Don’t skip the Celebration! Take this opportunity to make Thanksgiving special despite Covid-19.

November 24, 2020

Even though this year is likely going to be a little different from anything previously experienced, it’s an opportunity to think outside the box and build on tangible and realistic ways to have meaningful experiences.

It's common to feel lonely during the pandemic. It would be easy to use the pandemic as an excuse to not bring your loved ones together for the holidays. But remember, Thanksgiving isn’t cancelled, just different. Remember, many of your friends and family may be feeling lonely too. Give them a call or set up a Zoom event for Thanksgiving.

It's understandable to feel disappointed skipping traditional big family gatherings. But instead, why not embrace it and try something new instead? Here are some ideas to get you started!

Low-Key Holiday: A big family gathering that requires tons of time in an airport or on a crowded train? This isn’t the year for it. But taking the kids to a cabin in the woods or rental on the beach to get a change of scenery? That might be a safe, socially distant, and memorable option for families that want to take advantage of the long weekend.

Movie Binge: One of the best parts of Thanksgiving is having a nice long weekend, so make the most of staying home by planning for a family movie binge! Just choose a series with multiple movies (maybe Harry Potter, Star Wars, or Toy Story) and settle in for a weekend of popcorn, movies, and leftover pie! Get your friends or loved ones in on the fun and plan on watching the same movies together, though at your own separate homes and start a group chat commenting on the action as you go!

Write About It: One of the special things about Thanksgiving is building family memories and sharing family stories. One way to do that from a distance is to have everyone write the story of what they did this year and to collect those letters to be shared at the next Thanksgiving when everyone is together. Creating a written family story is a powerful way to connect, even at a distance.

Looking Out for Your Community: Thanksgiving can be a great time to celebrate family, but it's also an occasion to remember that we are all part of a community. Families staying home this Thanksgiving can explore ways to help Jackson or Hillsdale food banks, or doing some trail or park clean up. In lieu of volunteering this year because of Covid-19, maybe look up groups like the Interfaith Shelter, Partial to Girls, or one of the other groups on LifeWay Helpful Links page to call and ask what you could do to help others in need.

Create a New Tradition: Not having the traditional big family Thanksgiving to look forward to can be hard, but this year could be a great one for starting some new family traditions. Having something new to look forward to (maybe a Thanksgiving hike or having pie for breakfast), can brighten up the holiday and help families introduce some new fun for the future, too.

Watch the Game
Watching football is a big part of Thanksgiving for some families, so make that happen from a distance. Set up a virtual viewing party and a family fantasy league and everyone will still get a chance to cheer for their favorite team this year.

Keep it light with games or conversation starters
Trivia and many board games can be translated to the digital world well. There are also great conversation starters that can lead the conversation in some interesting directions. Thankfulness Cards that LifeWays created of open-ended questions to prompt your gratitude and get the ball rolling. They can help steer the conversation to fun topics and away from the less fun topics.    

Social distancing doesn’t have to cramp your style. Gatherings with safe COVID-19 precautions can still be festive and fun. For all gatherings aside from immediate family members who live with you, be sure to follow social distancing guidelines, and Michigan safety protocols this year. Keep safe around food and drinks. Avoid communal serving utensils, passing of food and potluck or buffet style food service, and instead opt for individually prepared plates by a single server.

Seek Help If You Need It
If the holiday blues seem to linger or become more intense, an underlying mental health issue seems to be worsening, or you just don’t feel like yourself, it’s OK to seek help. As with a physical illness, such as diabetes or heart disease, mental health issues deserve treatment, too.  

Each of these free mental health resources are available to you if you need support.

LifeWays 24/7 Crisis Line is here for you with our Crisis/Access line at 1 (800) 284-8288. LifeWays is here for you this holiday season and beyond.

211 is an essential service available 24/7 that connects people to expert social services support in their local area. You can call “2-1-1” or text your zip code to 898211 or visit

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free, confidential support to anyone in emotional distress, including from suicidal thoughts. They offer both phone calls and online chatting with trained crisis counselors. Call 1 (800) 273-8255, or visit

Crisis Text Line is available for any crisis. A live, trained Crisis Counselor receives the text and responds, all from a secure online platform. Text “4HELP” to 741741

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