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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Pandemic pressure: Families fighting over gathering for Christmas

The holidays are family-oriented, but some families said the health risk isn't worth it.

SAN DIEGO — With your decorated tree and wrapped presents, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. But thanks to the pandemic, it's certainly not feeling that way. Health officials are telling San Diegans not to gather in groups this holiday season, and that’s putting some families in a tough spot. 

On the one hand, they want to keep their family safe, but on the other - relatives are guilting them into continuing family traditions.

Rachel Pinuelas-Morineau usually spends Christmas Eve with 40 to 50 family members, but not this year. 

“My mom and I are not going to be together this year and we're not going to share the tamales that we usually do,” she said. 

As the Director of Community Engagement for South Bay Community Services, Pinuelas-Morineau has seen COVID-19 spread through her community and she doesn't want to risk her family's health. 

“Right now, it's about doing what's best for our family and we'll get together again soon," said Pinuelas-Morineau.

Cielo Jimenez is a licensed couples and family therapist who said clients are coming to her stressed out, especially those dealing with the added pressure of parents pushing cultural traditions.

Jimenez said the key is communication. 

“We all love our traditions. We all love our families,” she said, adding that you need to let your loved ones know how you feel. 

I asked her for an example of the way to share your concerns without hurting feelings. 

“Mom, I love you," she said as an example. "I know that right now is scary. What if there's no tomorrow? What if there's no next Christmas, but I do not want the reason for us to have to tomorrow or for us to have a next Christmas to be the fact that I went to see you and brought a virus into your home that could kill you.”

She also suggested that, instead of lamenting over what we can't do this year, see it as a unique opportunity to give those who usually don't have a say in how the holidays go a chance to help create some new family traditions.

Pinuelas-Morineau said her family started doing that over Thanksgiving and this week, they'll use technology to be as together as possible.

“We're planning to do a couple of Zooms with my husband's side, with my side," said Pinuelas-Morineau.

They're taking precautions this year with the hope that everyone will stay healthy enough to gather in person next year.