Dylan Dreyer faced the difficult decision that millions of families are wrestling with across the country this month when deciding if her father should join her family for Thanksgiving dinner.
The TODAY meteorologist and co-host spoke on Wednesday about how she broke the news to her father, Jim Dreyer, that she did not want him to join them in New York City for the holiday, as health experts advocate for small gatherings to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
"It was a tough decision," she said. "I thought about it for a couple of days, and I said 'Dad, I'm sorry to have this conversation with you, but you're uninvited for Thanksgiving,' because I didn't want him to feel like he's now stuck coming because he didn't want to break my heart, so I just had to do it."
Thanksgiving is approaching as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge across the country, with records being set daily and all 50 states showing an increase in cases.
"If you want to show your support for health care workers this year, stay home for Thanksgiving,” Dr. Jeff Pothof, ER physician and chief quality officer at University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, said on TODAY Wednesday.
The decision for Dylan was particularly difficult because she said her father had not visited with them in person since January, when Dylan gave birth to her second son, Oliver.
However, he took the news about Thanksgiving in stride.
"He was like, 'I'm so glad you said that because I really didn't want to come,''' she said.
Dylan has also struggled to break the news to her son, Calvin, 3, that their extended family won't be joining them for the holiday.
"I also think you need to have some fun activities for kids," she said. "I know Calvin is so upset. He still doesn't believe that his cousins aren't coming for Thanksgiving. He thinks I'm teasing him, but I need to come up with ways to make it fun for him and not feel like a regular dinner."
TODAY investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen shared some tips on Wednesday for families facing similar decisions.
"Be empathetic," she said. "You've got to acknowledge that this stinks, it's not what you want, but there's these 'I' statements that are supposed to help.
"So, 'I'm making this decision because I want to protect you, I want us all to be safe, I don't want anyone to get sick, and I can't wait to get together either, and we will, just not this holiday.'''
She added that families can use school as an excuse, saying that a large gathering may prevent their child from returning to in-person learning due to school protocol. Nguyen also had advice for those thinking that getting a COVID-19 test is enough to have a large Thanksgiving gathering.
"Remember that test is only that snapshot in time," she said. "You could get the test, you could be pre-symptomatic, then you go to the gathering, and maybe you're not wearing a mask, you're not social distancing, it's not outside, so that's where the risk goes up."