How families can share holiday joy safely during the pandemic.
Holiday joy in family celebration is challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Are safe family holiday celebrations in the pandemic possible? Think about it for a moment. Are you tempted to add a question mark to holiday greetings like “Happy Thanksgiving?” “Happy Hanukkah?” or “Merry Christmas?” Families wanting to celebrate holidays this year face pandemic risks like none the world has seen in over a century. So, as numbers of COVID-19 infections rise, must families suspend their 2020 holiday joy? While folks may need to improvise holiday celebrations, we suggest in this special edition article that holiday joy is worth the extra effort.

Knowledge – the Key to Safe Family Holiday Celebrations

The safe family holiday celebration effort must start with knowledge. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website offers holiday gifts of tips and precautions for families and friends to celebrate safely at:

Technology – Tools for Safe Family Holiday Celebrations

Technology that has kept many of us connected this year can connect us through the holidays. Some families may connect virtually this year instead of sharing a holiday meal around one table. Although a tablet or laptop at the head of the table can’t replace the person normally seated there, that person can share family fellowship remotely.

Sharing – Same Family Holiday Ingredients With Creative Delivery

So families are cooking and sharing parts of their meals with each other by exchanging food. One household may deliver parts of the turkey to another family members’ homes, and return home with other parts of the holiday meal.

Testing and Quarantining – Slam Dunks and Grand Slams for Family Holiday Safety

Some holiday joy seekers are borrowing from the 2020 coronavirus playbooks of professional sports. Professional athletes are quarantining and submitting to weekly COVID-19 tests to protect teammates from infection. Some families are using that strategy before gathering so they can enjoy in-person celebrations fearlessly. The idea is that a family may gather safely if everyone isolates and tests negative in the 14 days before the family celebration. Of course, no plan is foolproof. Still, families willing follow the test and quarantine strategy may not need to sacrifice holiday traditions at all.

Indiana COVID-19 Test Tips

Some Indiana counties have no COVID-19 testing site presently. Some pharmacies outside those counties offer free testing for certain qualified people (employees required to get tested, patients sent by doctors, etc.), but they charge a hefty fee for everyone else.

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) website offers connections to free testing facilities throughout the state. We have found these steps helpful to register and receive COVID-19 tests through the ISDH community testing system:

  1. Begin by looking up your county and surrounding counties in the “List of Test Sites by County” on the right side of the map at;
  2. To preregister in a location, click on the “Register for testing at a Community Test Site” button;
  3. Entering your ZIP Code in next screen to find nearby testing facilities;
  4. After you select a facility, you can schedule an appointment (but schedule far enough out to complete the registration process – there may be 5 additional registration screens after scheduling the appointment);
  5. Complete the registration process (we recommend giving your mobile phone so you will receive text messages concerning your appointment and the test results);
  6. Allow plenty of time in case other people are receiving tests at the facility;
  7. Where your mask into the facility (except during the nose swab procedure) and follow instructions from the testing facility staff;
  8. Watch for a text message with your test results in 3 to 5 days.

The web link to the ISDH COVID-19 Testing Information webpage is:

Pay Now or Pay Later – Family Holiday Celebration Costs

Most families will pay costs of holiday joy this year. Families that disregard coronavirus precautions may sacrifice the lives of their most vulnerable members. Alternatively, families that cancel holiday celebrations completely will forfeit opportunities to share holiday joy. However, families that celebrate creatively may fill their homes with lasting, joyful memories from their shared precautionary efforts.

We hope every family finds safe, holiday joy this year. With little thought and effort, we can all chip in this year so everyone can celebrate freely next year.

About the Authors

Jeff R. Hawkins and Jennifer J. Hawkins co-author the Hawkins Elder Law blog with Thomas E. Hynes, a lawyer who is admitted in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida with a background in estate planning and elder law.

Jeff and Jennifer Hawkins are Trust & Estate Specialty Board Certified Indiana Trust & Estate Lawyers. They are also active members of the Indiana State Bar Association and National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Both lawyers are admitted to practice law in Indiana, and Jeff Hawkins is admitted to practice law in Illinois.

Jeff is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the Indiana Bar Foundation.  He is also a member of the Illinois State Bar Association. He served as the 2014-15 President of the Indiana State Bar Association.

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