NEW YORK, -- Jonatan Mitchell is a fan of Thanksgiving. He usually hosts up to 20 people with his wife. After the 2020 pandemic had forced it to be postponed, he was looking forward to this year's gathering. But one of the most urgent issues of our time slowed him down: Who is vaccinated?
Mitchell, 35, lives in Coon Rapids (Minnesota) and has a rare neurological disorder called Kleine-Levin Syndrome. He also has a number of health issues which could make him more vulnerable to COVID. His father-in law and brother-in laws won't be vaccinated.
Instead of imposing an ultimatum that was certain to fail, Mitchells postponed Thanksgiving and instead hosted a Friendsgiving. Mitchell's wife, who is currently vaccinated, will be able to see her family on Thursday.
Mitchell described the situation as upsetting and frustrating for many families who are trying to navigate the vaccination divide during the holidays. Thanksgiving can be a sign of how the rest the holiday season will unfold among families that are in conflict over vaccinations.
Mitchell stated that he was willing to draw a line with other people when deciding not to confront unvaccinated relatives. I've removed a few friends and acquaintances who are anti-vaccine but it's impossible to do the same with family.
Karla Erickson, Grinnell College professor of sociology, stated that this sentiment is echoed by others and points to a shift in the pandemic, from fearful overreactions to public safety to more intimate and long-term reshapings of social norms.
She said, "Families can sometimes kind of muffle conflicts and, since we paused at a time that's really uncommon for families, restarting ritual gives us a chance to reconsider things." There will be new hesitancy. Many people who have been vaccinated may not want to attend an event where they don't know or haven't asked."
Carrie Verrocchio (55), a COVID survivor from long-haul, still struggles with loss of taste and smell 10 years after she tested positive. For Thanksgiving, she hosts about 11. Five of them are not vaccinated. She said that all five were informed.
"It feels like there is constant friction. You just want people happy and to be together. Verrocchio, who received the vaccine after contracting the disease, said that there is always friction. We're letting everyone decide how we handle it. Although it's not ideal, it is a plan.
Lizzie Post is the great-great-granddaughter of etiquette legend Emily Post. In 1922, her famous relative wrote "Etiquette," her first book. This was just a few years after the Spanish flu killed many. Although Emily did not mention how to deal with such a danger in her first edition, it is a difficult topic for her etiquette standards bearers today.
Post said, "It's really delicate topic, and it won't go well for everyone," and is also co-president at the Emily Post Institute. He hosts the Awesome Etiquette podcast and is author and coauthor of many books on etiquette.
"Many of us have become used to general entertainment since the time that vaccinations were in play. This means that we have had experience with it, and know what our standards are. There are good reasons to reconsider and to say that maybe it's not worth it for the big family if it's going so difficult," she stated.
Eva Keller and her husband have chosen to avoid any fraught for Thanksgiving. He has been immunized. She has already been infected with COVID twice, and she has no plans to get it again. There was no discussion of Thanksgiving with her husband's family.
Keller, 27, from Anaheim, California, stated that Keller's husband's family made it clear that he would not allow him to enter their home until he is fully vaccinated. He said that his parents insisted on getting my husband vaccinated. He was worried that his mother would be afraid to get vaccinated if he did not.
They will celebrate Thanksgiving together.
Erickson believes that other pandemic strands are at work heading into the holiday season.
She said that there are still questions, such as "how did this family or individual navigate the pandemic?" Are there shared values on what the past year has meant to our families? Are we still in touch? Are we in touch enough to share the holiday?
August Abbott answers etiquette queries at JustAnswer.com. This help line has just over 10,000,000 monthly users. She has been answering a lot of questions lately about vaccinations and holiday gatherings. One of the questions was: Is it rude for guests to inquire about their vaccination status? Is it possible to disinvite someone who hasn't been vaccinated?
It's almost like Typhoid Mary. Are you going to invite her to dinner, knowing that she is Typhoid Mary? Or do you tell Mary, "I'm sorry, but we can't take that chance." We love you, and we can't take this chance. That's how you deal with people who aren't vaccinated for COVID. This is especially true if you have an elderly member of your family or someone with immunocompromised. It's not about politics, it's about health and respecting one another." she stated.
Abbott stated that tone is everything.
"So, it's not unreasonable for Uncle Jack to say, you know, that you haven't had your vaccines. It's your right. That's what I respect. You are my love. We cannot refuse this chance. Do you want to join us for this dinner via video, Uncle Jack? She said that there are many options, but it is not possible to put your health at risk.
Frederick Brushaber (36), from Cincinnati, will be celebrating Thanksgiving with 13 of his family members at his mother’s home in Knoxville, Tennessee. His husband, Freddie Brushaber, and their 15-month old son are included in the group. Freddie has Down syndrome which can put him at greater risk of complications if he gets COVID.
Brushaber's grandmother, 88, lost her husband in this year's death. She was supposed to have been driving from Florida to Knoxville along with an aunt or uncle. They are not currently vaccinated. After his mother's Thanksgiving vaccination talk, they won't be going. This means that grandma will have to board the plane by herself for the first time since her husband is absent.
He said, "I'm not thrilled about it but I'm just glad I get to win this." "I will have grandma and Freddie there, and I won’t have to worry." People with Down syndrome have terrible numbers. It would be nice if people understood that, while you do have the option to choose, some of the most vulnerable individuals don't.