All About Estates

Family gatherings and the 6th wave.

I asked a friend how her holiday family dinners were and she shared an interesting and to me, sad story.  The dinner was being held at her cousin’s home in lieu of it being held at the cousin’s mother’s home as was the usual tradition.  The mother and her sister ( my friend’s mom) always shared these traditional dinners together and took turns hosting.

My friend’s mom in her mid 70’s has an autoimmune condition and although fully vaccinated, she has been very careful and had not attended any family events since March  2020.  Long story short, the dinner was being hosted at her niece and nephew’s home ( in lieu of her sister’s) and she happily agreed to bring her usual dinner contributions and asked that everyone do a rapid test before getting together. Seder’s have song, story and prayer so she also asked if the family would wear a mask during the Haggadah reading around the table – except of course, while eating. The reply was no.

On the day of the event, she dropped off her food contributions and brought her own rapid tests with her, asking again now face to face- that they do a rapid test.  Once again they declined. They gratefully accepted the food she had prepared but would not agree to test or to wear a mask. She left their home truly heartbroken that another year would go by when she would not be able to participate in this traditional family event.

Last evening I shared this story with another friend, who agreed with the niece and nephew that it was the aunt’s decision alone to attend or not and that no fault should be assigned to the hosts.

Such a curious situation how are are now in our own way trying to balance health risk, one’s own beliefs and respect for aging family members.   What do you think?


About Audrey Miller
About: Audrey Miller, Managing Director of Elder Caring Inc. has over 30 years social work and rehabilitation experience working with older individuals and their families. She advises the financial, insurance, legal and business communities regarding elder care issues. Audrey is a recognized expert in her field. Email:


  1. Joelle Adelson

    April 25, 2022 - 1:12 pm

    I think it’s awful that they would not do a test – really selfish. It’s hard to absorb how selfish and uncaring family members can be. It has become fairly common to test prior to a gathering, as a matter of courtesy. This is the same attitude as those choosing not to vaccinate, believing it only affects themselves.

  2. Jill Nelson

    April 25, 2022 - 1:31 pm

    It’s hard to understand why someone would not do something as simple as a RAT in an attempt to protect a family member — and one who contributes to the dinner, at that! It’s awful, stubborn behaviour.
    I also worry, though, about our reliance on RATs as a safety check. We’ve seen lately that even symptomatic people test negative on multiple RATs, then test positive after a few days. This seems to be typical of the latest variant.

  3. David Barker

    April 25, 2022 - 1:32 pm

    I agree with Joelle. I suspect it’s a sign of COVID fatigue. Now that things are opening up, people are shoving the door wide open. I can’t speak to the family dynamic in this tale, but one would think that if you loved someone who had autoimmune issues, you’d do whatever you could to protect them.

  4. Emma

    April 25, 2022 - 1:35 pm

    This is terribly sad and stubborn. Taking a rapid test or wearing masks hurt no one. It is beyond comprehension that people would choose pettiness over graciousness. If the last two years have reminded me of anything it’s that the time I have with my loved ones is not guaranteed and human interaction is important for our mental health. Why deny a family elder that opportunity to connect over a special gathering? Quite mean-spirited.

  5. Lori G Eisen

    April 25, 2022 - 1:59 pm

    Interesting story and interesting take on it. Clearly, there are so many different opinions on how society should move forward in the current state of Covid. But people compromise with elderly family all the time (e.g., mobility issues, timing of meals) so in my opinion, the host should have accommodated the elderly guest. They have already missed out on so much and expecting them to miss yet another family gathering just because the host wouldn’t do a two second rapid test is selfish. The host wasn’t being asked to get vaccinated or another more invasive measure! This is much like victim blaming – the immunosuppressed and elderly have to suffer double!

  6. Dr. Evelyn Adams

    April 25, 2022 - 6:12 pm

    It would have been easier and cause less fuss for an elder guest to ask ahead of time if the attendees would do a rapid test and wear masks while in prayer. If the answer is no–then do not attend. Do not make a special meal and bring it hoping they will change their mind.
    We have to understand that most of the population is ignorant of the disease and if a person contracts it they will be left with an organ deficiency —this is very serious. For an older person or a very young one, it would be terrible to be left with an organ insufficiency following the disease. We now know that a person of any age can be left with a heart problem as well as kidney problem. One of my referred clients is 42 who got COVID and has recovered from it BUT has to have kidney dialysis as the disease caused her kidneys to malfunction.

  7. Stephen Ainger

    April 25, 2022 - 6:19 pm

    The family’s rection could be due to previous conflicts. Their unwillingness to compromise at a family dinner/religious celebration does seem contradictory. I agree that the use of RATs provides a false sense of security.

  8. MC

    April 25, 2022 - 11:04 pm

    We seem to have unrealistic expectations of what ‘family’ means in 2022. Ties don’t bind like they used to.

  9. Peter Archibald

    April 26, 2022 - 4:37 pm

    To take a rapid test and to wear a mask is no big deal, particularly within family where someone is very concerned for the reasons mentioned. Bending a little is a sign of decency, those making the request will really appreciate it.

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