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Setting boundaries with mom over Christmas

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Covid numbers and public health orders in my region mean I’ve decided that I’m just not comfortable seeing my 60-something parents for Christmas. My mom is not going to take this well and I have terrible boundaries. How do I navigate this? In the past few weeks I tried to tell my mom over the phone that we weren’t sure if we would visit for Christmas dinner. She just kept changing the subject and insisting that it would be fine because she trusts me to be careful. For a time I was planning to do a 2 week period of more isolation before Christmas so I could feel safe going. But the public health order today said no gatherings until January, and I can’t really quarantine because I live with my partner who still has to go to work. It’s just too stressful for me and I can’t see myself enjoying myself at all.

I’m not really looking for covid advice here because I know what I need to do. I’m just all torn up at the idea of telling my mom we aren’t coming. My mom has always been intensely attached to her children with a fear of abandonment. She has a way of making me feel responsible for her negative emotions so I’ve always been terrified of upsetting her. And I know it will break her heart if we don’t go. She hasn’t been able to see her friends or do any of her usual activities in months so Christmas has been the only thing she’s been looking forward to. She seems to have bought a ton of gifts for me and my partner. I thought about suggesting a gift exchange in my parents backyard but I worry she will be offended by that.

My mom is not stupid or a denialist, she is a smart former nurse who understands the risk of Covid and lives carefully. I think she just has a blind spot when it comes to how much she wants to see her children. It really just breaks my heart to upset her like this.

So yeah. Just need help setting boundaries and navigating a super difficult conversation.

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