There is No Place Like Home for the Holidays

By Lee Scott, MD, FAAP - Dothan Pediatric Clinic

This may be the year to be home for the holidays. 2020 has been a year unlike any other in our lifetimes as the entire planet has been affected by a pandemic.

The upcoming winter holidays contain strong elements of traditions and family gatherings, both of which may also be impacted. For most families, especially large ones, the holidays will look different by necessity to keep our families safe.  The following suggestions will help limit the risks of contracting COVID-19 while still preserving the joy of the season.

Especially with large families, communicating desires, expectations, and comfort levels require many conversations. There is no 100% safe way to bring two or more households together where COVID-19 is circulating. Strong consideration should be given to staying in place and not gathering this year. The last thing we want is to put our loved ones at risk as we certainly want them to be at next year’s gathering and many more to come.

Start new traditions. You can cook and eat together on a Zoom connection. If you live close by, favorite foods can be swapped between households. It’s the season of giving and taking care of others, so contribute to charities with donations and safe ways to give of your family’s time. Use the season to talk to your children about giving and doing for others.



If you must travel and gather, there are some common-sense steps that can be taken to lower risks:


  • If flying, wear masks, frequently sanitize hands, and distance more than 6 feet as much as possible.


  • Driving is safer than flying. Bring plenty of water, food, and snacks, so you don’t have to purchase these on the road.

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Hosting or visiting family or friends

  • Set basic guidelines:  Will masks be worn except for eating? Will social distancing be practiced?


  • Move gatherings outdoors as weather permits.


  • Limit time spent with other household members, especially indoors. Increase indoor ventilation by opening windows and doors.
  • Use an air purifier.

  • Consider if people you visit are at increased risk for infection, such as those over age 65 or with chronic medical problems.

  • It’s not too late to obtain a flu shot.

  • Be prepared for last-minute changes. A positive COVID-19 test or the onset of symptoms can make it impossible to gather.

  • If possible, have guests bring their own food and beverage, so there’s no sharing between households.

  • Do not serve buffet-style; instead have one person do the serving to limit the number of hands touching the serving utensils.

Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays, ’cause no matter how far away you roam, when you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze, for the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home! Especially this year.

Lee Scott
Author: Lee Scott

Dr. Lee Scott was born and raised in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Although he received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Harding College in Searcy, Arkansas, he returned to Mississippi for medical school and earned a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Mississippi, Jackson in May 1984.. He then completed a Pediatric Residency program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, also in Jackson, in 1987. Dr. Scott is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. He is a proud member of the Alabama Academy of Pediatrics.

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There is No Place Like Home for the Holidays

by Lee Scott time to read: 3 min