It’s no secret that Thanksgiving and other winter holiday plans are being upended around the country thanks to COVID.

Twitter: @CDCgov

The CDC is advising people against traveling or seeing people outside your household this year. And while some may scoff, others are doing everything they can to reduce the spread and keep each other safe.

That’s not to say that canceling family traditions and holiday plans is easy — but many people are making the difficult sacrifice to do it anyway.

Twitter: @kumailn

So, we recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community how they told their loved ones that they wouldn’t be attending the holidays in-person and how their loved ones reacted. And here are some of their responses:


“I literally just sent my family a text saying that I’m not coming because of COVID-19. Guilt trips ensued, but I’m standing my ground because it’s all fun and games until someone drops dead.”



“I didn’t get a response at all. Holidays are a big deal in my family, so I guess we are being shunned now?”

“My aunt sent an invitation via a group text to my parents and other relatives. My household decided not to attend this year, but we did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings. We all sat down together and put effort into crafting a perfect response.

We made the message clear but also emphasized that we still value the family and are disappointed to miss the holiday. Still, no response.”



“I just said I wasn’t coming, and my parents said, ‘Of course, there’s a pandemic. Stay home, and stay safe.'”

“My mom is a doctor.”



“My grandma told me she was disappointed in me.”

“Finally told my grandma that my husband and I will not be coming today due to concerns with recent COVID spikes and the number of people that would be in the house. Her response? ‘I’m disappointed in you.'”


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“I might just be lucky, but the conversation went like this, ‘Mom, we are not traveling this holiday season. Getting on mass transit just doesn’t seem safe.’ And the response was, ‘Yeah, that makes sense. We are not traveling either.'”



“Here’s the amazing thing: literally no one replied. Total crickets. WTF? Seriously? Not sure what to make of that.”

“One side of the family had already openly agreed a few months ago that we weren’t getting together. So we sent a group text to the other side — this is how we all communicate regularly — letting them know that we are very saddened but not going to host Thanksgiving like we usually do because we want to be safe and responsible, etc. Radio silence.”


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“My family thinks COVID was conspired by the government. And to top it off, I was called the C-word over not coming for the holidays.”

“I have since changed my number, and no one on that side of the family knows my phone number. I call that a win in my book.”



“I said, ‘Hey, I’m not coming, it’s not safe yet.’ The response to which was, ‘Yeah, cool. Let’s all be responsible.'”

“I’m Canadian, so Thanksgiving has come and gone. We’re also going to do Christmas by FaceTime. And the earth will keep spinning and none of us will burst into flames.”


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“I told my family I wasn’t coming, and they asked why — like nothing was wrong.”

“Things are different in the South, and, where my family is, I guess they’re not seeing anything different. But it was very frustrating having to explain when I shouldn’t even have had to.

I was supposed to fly down south for Thanksgiving but ultimately canceled my flight. You think you’ll never get sick or that you’ll just be lucky, but then you end up contributing to the problem when you do get sick.

It was a hard decision. Living all the way up in Philly as a single woman, it’s a lonely thought to accept that I have to spend the holidays alone. But I’m going to make a couple of dishes, get a rotisserie chicken, and drink wine while I watch Thanksgiving episodes of Bob’s Burgers. 🤷🏻‍♀️”


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“I made small talk for a bit, and then I said, ‘I’m pretty sure we can’t spend Thanksgiving with you guys,’ and waited for my mom to get upset. She simply said, ‘Oh, I know!'”

“I work as a nurse, I deal with COVID-positive patients, and I test patients. I knew there was no way that I could spend the holidays with my 74-year-old parents. And I was so worried that when I told my mom, she would cry. So I ghosted her. I avoided calling her for two weeks until I finally put on my big girl panties and called.

I’m glad she was okay with it because I was already pretty devastated. If she had gotten upset, I would have lost it. I’d LOVE to spend time with my family, but sacrificing this year could help lead to many more so it’s worth it.”



“I put my foot down. We had 23 people for Thanksgiving last year and the year before. But I have sacrificed not going anywhere for my 77-year-old dad’s sake. So no, we’re not having Thanksgiving this year.”

“My stepmom asked me if her brother, his son, and his daughter-in-law could come for Thanksgiving. I thought it was okay. But then it became, ‘Oh yeah, and her nephew’s daughter and fiancé are flying in from Texas.’ ‘Oh, and her other brother and his daughter, son-in-law, and their three kids (two of which are in college).’ Her nephew offered to bring all of the food, but I didn’t care.

It’s too many people, some of whom are coming from out of state. I don’t understand why people aren’t taking this virus seriously, especially now that cases are skyrocketing. We settled with just her one brother coming, who we’ve seen throughout quarantine, and our neighbors. It was a compromise.”



“I told my family that I’m not coming home for Christmas. My brother and dad are furious with me. I wish they understood. I don’t want to contribute to the bigger problem. 😔”


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“No need to ‘come out,’ so to speak, about it. It’s pretty much been understood from the beginning that there will be no family Thanksgiving this year because of the virus.”

“Everyone in my wife’s family and my family is taking it seriously. My wife and I will stay home and enjoy a homemade pecan pie.”



“I’m currently 20 weeks pregnant. Several weeks ago, I spoke with my dad and told him I didn’t feel comfortable gathering for Thanksgiving because my immune system is depleted, and my grandparents are in their 80s. My dad agreed and said he didn’t feel right about it either.”

“Last week, my dad and both brothers were sick with COVID. They are all ok now.”


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“I put in our family group chat, ‘Let’s do virtual Thanksgiving this year,’ and everyone quickly agreed.”



“This is my first year in all of my life that I won’t be going over to my grandma’s for Thanksgiving. It’s hard, but it’s too risky, and I’d rather sacrifice Thanksgiving than our family’s health.”

“My grandma’s household and my household contracted COVID in mid-October. Some people in both of our households struggled pretty severely with it. We don’t have it anymore and mostly recovered, but we both agreed that we should stay home for Thanksgiving because we don’t want to go through that again.”


If you’re reading this before a holiday and feel less alone in cancelling but want some more ~info~ on why cancelling your plans is so important, find out why you should cancel your in-person holiday plans here.

And, if you’re curious about how else you can safely, creatively, and cozily celebrate the holidays this year, check out how other people are celebrating thanks to COVID here.


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