No, you don’t have to see your toxic family on Thanksgiving

Although the pandemic gave me an excuse not to go home for the holidays, I was left asking myself why I – an adult – never saw it as my right to refuse

Before the pandemic, I had to brace myself for trips home over the holidays. I’d spend the weeks preceding Thanksgiving reading popular holiday survival guides, praying I’d learn some trick to help me leave emotionally intact. I was not alone: the internet abounds with memes of people hiding in toilets or stuck between family arguing at the Thanksgiving dinner table, wishing the night would end.

Now that travel is projected to substantially increase in time for this year’s holiday season and the CDC is no longer pleading for us to stay put during the holidays, many will be rejoicing. Some haven’t seen loved ones for years, finding themselves isolated, trapped in foreign lands or missing important life events – including being unable to visit ill and dying family members during global and national lockdowns.

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