As we enter this holiday season, it is difficult to consider the choices that we will all have to make to keep ourselves, our families, our neighbors and, at Beebe, our patients safe.

Thanksgiving is a time to sit around the table with our family and remember all the reasons we are thankful. During the Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza season, many gather to share gifts and celebrate sacred religious days. Many also gather to ring in the New Year every Dec. 31.

I have always loved Thanksgiving. When I was a kid, having just emigrated from Japan, Thanksgiving was a truly memorable American holiday. For me, five Chinese families would join together to watch USC football, play the board game Risk and, of course, enjoy a unique blend of traditional American and Asian dishes.

While I think of those memories fondly, this year my family will be creating some new traditions. COVID-19 is still here with us, and the data shows that infection and hospitalization rates continue to rise across the country and here in Sussex County.

We must reinvent some of the traditions of our families and friends to keep each other safe. Just as all traditions look a little different from household to household, everyone will likely come up with their own new traditions this year.

Team Beebe is all about caring for our community, so we felt the best way to demonstrate that this year was to have our team come up with some ideas on how to celebrate this year’s holiday — COVID style.

Many suggested creating virtual holidays and chatting on the phone while eating dinner outside in the fresh air or inside in a larger space with the windows open.

In addition to those great ideas, some team members had even more original ideas that we just had to share with you in the hopes of making your 2020 holiday a little bit brighter. We’ll be sharing all of these ideas on social media throughout the holiday season.

At Beebe, we remain committed to this community. We are open and safe for all of your healthcare needs. And as we prepare to celebrate this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, we are certainly thankful for the privilege of caring for you.

• Create a letter chain — Linda Schultz, a systems analyst at Beebe, came up with a wonderful idea about creating a letter chain of the folks who would normally attend your holiday get-together.

Write your own page briefly that shares your sentiments for the holiday — something you would share if you were together — don’t make it too long, to encourage those down the line to keep it going.

Mail the letter, the instructions and the mailing list. The person who receives it will do the same, and when the letter makes its way back to you, the circle is complete.

Many of our other team members also suggested sending care packages.

• I Spy at a lights display — Rebeca Heistand-Ringwood, BSN, RN, suggested making a new family tradition. She shares one of her ideas:

Research local holiday light displays that can be seen from a slow drive in the car.

Make an “I Spy” game from things on the display route. (Have copies for each family unit.)

Plan a family holiday date. Schedule a time around dinnertime (dusk to dark).

Each family unit will need to be able to ride in their own vehicles (preferably decorated) and bring their own drinks.

Make to-go containers with a holiday meal or snacks for each family member. Include a family supply of napkins and utensils in one Ziplock-type storage bag.

Have families meet at one location. Pass out to-go containers to family cars and a copy of the “I Spy” game to each car.

When all have assembled, lead the pack and drive in a caravan to and through the light display/neighborhood. (This is a “No Cell Zone,” and all electronics and other distractions need to be put away during the family drive.)

When completed, make your way back to the meeting place and gather the scavenger-hunt papers from each family.

Announce the winner for having the most items checked off. (Of course, this is for bragging rights ... unless you want to give out a family trophy.)

It requires a little bit of effort but is well worth it, she says.

• Let the kids cook! Tara Simpson, our manager for organizational development, will just be having her family of four at home this year (and that’s OK, too!).

She says that, to change things up this year and get the whole family involved, they will be planning the menu differently.

Besides the turkey (and maybe stuffing), each family member will choose to make something. It can be anything; it doesn’t have to be the traditional things, but it’s their choice. They buy the ingredients, they make it all themselves.

“I’m excited to see what they each come up with.”

• Exchange those family recipes, find something special — Pam Smith, RN, and clinical review auditor (and also wonderful at sewing masks), suggested a recipe exchange. Mail it or Zoom it, but make it special if everyone is apart this year.

There could also be a wreath exchange, if you are handy enough to do that. (I know I’m not!)

She also suggested to give to those in need and spread kindness and holiday spirit.

• Holiday bingo and craft boxes — Kelley Mills, human resources specialist, says to send out bingo cards in the mail. Then create a Zoom meeting for bingo.

She also suggested this great idea for kids: a craft or activity box. Provide a simple craft, such as decorating a cut-out tree with stickers/pompoms or something to paint. Also, you could provide a baking box with simple ingredients for hot cocoa.

One more idea from Kelley (who really shared some great ideas) was to surprise someone with a festive mug and drop it off at the door with a sign that says, “I’ve been mugg’d!” Hopefully, they will pass it along. You can keep it anonymous, or not.

One more thank-you

No matter how you celebrate this year, please just remember to keep the COVID-19 safety measures in mind: wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance. Thank you all, and thank you to the many team members who shared their ideas. I wish we could fit them all!

To find the latest guidance from the State of Delaware and the Division of Public Health, visit coronavirus.delaware.gov/ and beebehealthcare.org/patients-visitors/column/covid-19-resource-center.

Dr. David A. Tam, MD, MBA, FACHE, assumed the role of Beebe Healthcare President & CEO on March 17. He has experience as an officer in the U.S. Navy and in large public health systems. He completed his pediatrics residency at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Oakland, Calif., and a pediatric neurology fellowship at the Medical College of Virginia.