Arizonan living in Washington decides not to travel to Arizona for Thanksgiving due to COVID-19

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 2020's holiday season will look different for many people who live away from their families, and Thanksgiving approaches some will have to visit family members via electronic means instead of hugging their loved ones.

For one native Arizonan, Thanksgiving is not only about giving thanks. It's about remembering her sister who is no longer here.

"Just knowing the cases that are rising all over the country, in Arizona, in my state right now, it just felt like it was too much of a risk," said Kelly Kleber, who lives in Seattle.

In 2020, she won't fly to Tucson to visit her parents as the coronavirus surges on. This holiday matters more than others to Kleber and her family, as Kleber's older sister, Kathryn, died of a drug overdose five years ago on Thanksgiving.

Kathryn, also known as "Kat," was 29.

"It's so special to be home for Thanksgiving. We really just take it as a day to just celebrate her, celebrate the person that she was, and it will be the first year that I'm not spending time with my family," said Kleber.

Kathryn taught English abroad in Korea and Taiwan, and she loved to travel the world. Every Thanksgiving since her death, Kleber and her parents visit a memorial tree dedicated to her

"She would just have the most infectious energy. She was definitely the type of person where you would walk into the room and you would just feel so drawn to her," said Kleber.

Kleber says FaceTime with her family will have to do this year. She is also sending a portrait of her sister as a gift. People say a picture is worth a thousand words, but this particular picture is worth so much more. It's another way to give thanks on a day many may have taken for granted.

"Getting that FaceTime is not getting that same hug in-person, so it's definitely it's just changed so much. It's crazy. This entire time has made me appreciate my parents so much more," said Kleber.