It’s official — the holiday season is back again. After what may have been a dizzyingly quick or dreadfully slow year in what seems to be a pandemic time warp, we’re once again being asked to celebrate winter holidays with COVID-19 present.
While California overall is doing better than it was this time last year, many people are still cautious about gathering indoors with people who don’t live with them, especially as state health officials are warning there could be another winter surge this year. In counties like Los Angeles and Santa Cruz, residents are being asked to put their masks on again.
What if this season you’re invited to a gathering at somebody else’s home, but you’re unsure of the masking or vaccination situation? Civility and etiquette expert Rosalina Randall suggests being honest and asking.
“I would probably call and just say ‘Hi, I’m a little concerned … will you be having this, this or this?’ whatever is important to you. And they will say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ and then you say ‘thanks so much. I’ll let you know in a couple of days and make your decision,’” Randall said on CapRadio’s Insight.
But if you’re the one hosting the party, some things may be a little reversed. Randall joined CapRadio’s Insight host Vicki Gonzalez and broke down how to get through the holiday season with friendships and family intact.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length
Hosting a party
How to inquire about the vaccination status of your guests
Previously, it would have been very rude to ask or demand any of those things from your guests, but now it is becoming acceptable.
Some people aren’t accepting it, but you can choose not to answer. So my basic rule is — your house, your rules. If you’re hosting it, and these are the protocols that you want to have, then … when you do invite people, definitely tell them that masks will be required, or you will show proof of vaccination.
A lot of people are unhappy with that because of privacy issues, but you definitely need to tell your guests in advance what the protocols will be. Will you be offering food? Will you not? Are pets allowed? Are children all supposed to be vaccinated as well? Are you going to provide social distancing? What is the food situation like — [are you] going to be changing the utensils regularly?
And to allow for people to decline [your invitation] … Also if your guests come from different counties [they may not be used to the restrictions]. So consider that and do your research.
If you’re going to host something, what is your particular county mandating, or is it just your personal request and preference?
Guest at a party
How to find out what the safety protocols are when attending a party
During this time, politely ask [what their safety protocols are], not impose, not command or demand. That’s where people get a little bit confused … Under these circumstances, I would probably call and just say ‘Hi. I’m a little concerned … will you be having this, this or this?’ whatever is most important to you.
And they will say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ and then you say ‘thanks so much, I’ll let you know in a couple of days,’ and make your decision. We can decline [their invitation] and without explanation.
However, most of us expect an explanation or even ask why, depending on the level of the relationship that you have. So again, you can decline. Just say, ‘I’m not comfortable,’ be honest and say, ‘I’m not comfortable under the circumstances. You know, maybe we can get together in a different venue after the holidays.’
Simple … just make your decision and allow people to do what they need to do.
What to say when family or friends insist on your attending a party you’re not comfortable going to
Depending on your relationship with this person … if you’re very close to him, just say, ‘Look, I’m not ready.’ They may try and talk you into it, and [you can] just say ‘thanks, I appreciate it, but we’re going to pass on this.’
Even if you’re really unsure, you can also stop by for just a little while if it’s outdoors. I mean, there are different options, but you can just definitely say ‘no, I’m sorry. I’m not ready to go.’ And if they insist, just repeat this, [it’s] the safest thing. ‘Thank you, but I’m not ready to go.’
… You know that old saying you can’t control how other people are going to respond or feel by your decision. If there’s a way to accommodate them where you're still feeling comfortable, then you can plan accordingly.
However, if they’re going to get their feelings hurt, you apologize, and you say, ‘honest, we’ll get together as soon as this is over.’ That’s all you can do.
Are you going to feel comfortable [with attending], or are you going to regret that? What if you get COVID because of the interaction or give it to them, you’re going to feel worse. So I always say, go with your gut.
But when you make this decision, try not to come from a political standpoint or a staunch ‘this is what I think, and that’s it.’ Consider the circumstances. That is where you may want to come from when you make these decisions.
Traveling for the holidays
How to deal with unruly people while traveling
I've spoken to several flight attendants about this, and [they suggest to] push your [service] button. That's what it's for. Call [them] before you even say anything if you feel uncomfortable.
… But sometimes, we feel a little hesitant because of any repercussions if they watch us push the button or speak to a flight attendant. What you can do is excuse yourself depending on which state you're in and go to the back of the plane and privately speak to someone and let them go and approach the person.
… Sometimes they pick and choose what they say, depending on the feel of the particular passenger, which isn't fair to everyone else. But then again, do we want a brawl, or do we all put up with [it] … because of the potential violence that could occur?
If you're sitting next to someone —which I was [the one time I flew recently] — that had their mask down and they weren't eating. It didn't bother me or upset me. And again, it's a personal choice, right? I could have said something, but I chose not to, so we pick and choose.
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