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Thanksgiving Might be Cancelled this Holiday Season

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I open our annual blog with this outlandish headline. Although it attempts at black comedy, it also sums up the bizarre nature of this year. The past nine months of sheltering in place, giving up travel (if anyone had told me this Road Warrior would be grounded for 9 months I would have laughed and said NFW!), donning a mask in public, remaining six feet from others, and generally reevaluating life as we know it has left us all in a state of shock, sadness, and frustration. We have been forced to reexamine our priorities, and of course that includes our time-honored social occasions.

For our family, this Thanksgiving will be unconventional. We probably won’t budge. My cooking-obsessed partner will have to pare it way back as there will be just four of us. Two of our immediate family will not be joining us for fear of spreading COVID. Our daughter Madeline will be in attendance and her godmother, too. Our trusty dog Lucy will be by our side, ready and willing to gobble up the leftovers that should take us through the holidays.

How does the rest of the firm plan to spend the holiday, you ask? Read on…

As I stood on a ladder, decorating my Christmas tree in anticipation of the quickly approaching holiday season, I couldn't help but think of how privileged I am to have my family close to me during the COVID pandemic. We are fortunate to live in the same neighborhood and are adhering to the same safe practices that will allow us to be together for the holidays. It’s not lost on me that everyone does not have this same privilege, and I look forward with great hope that the upcoming months will bring a successful COVID vaccine and a renewed ability for everyone to share their holidays with loved ones once again in 2021. – Lindsay Ames

Our COVID Thanksgiving is going to look a lot like our pre-COVID Thanksgiving. I don’t have much family, and my husband’s parents typically travel to spend Thanksgiving with his sister’s in-laws, so we’ll be home just like the last few years. A small group of our friends come to our house and bring whatever sides and alcohol they like. My husband, a fabulous cook, roasts the turkey and bakes his famous pies. The evening usually ends with sipping apple whiskey and playing dominoes. We like our holiday meals quiet, relaxed, and spent with chosen family. I look forward to spending time with our friends because we’ve only seen them a few times this year! – Abby Buchold

This Thanksgiving is full of such mixed emotions for us. Generally, it is one of our favorite holidays to celebrate with family and friends over the long weekend. However, this year will be very different. We are thrilled that both boys will be home for the holiday break, but we will not be able to celebrate with the rest of our family as we normally do. Our niece and her husband are expecting their first child, and while we are all over the moon about this exciting news, they and the rest of our small extended family have decided not to expose themselves due to concern about COVID.

We are so grateful that we have each other amidst these challenging times and are looking forward to the silver lining of two weddings (postponed by COVID) and a new baby next year! We will never give up on life and love in spite of what is thrown at us! – Beth Ehrgott

Each year, I look forward to spending the Thanksgiving holiday with my sister and her family who live in another state. However, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, my visits are now twice as long because they’ve been less frequent over the last eight months. I can’t wait for my next visit to bond even further with my sister, who’s been my best friend my entire life. – Alison Finlay

We’ll spend Thanksgiving in our new (100-year-old) house with some unpacked boxes, good food, and gratitude knowing that we are very lucky no matter what has happened in 2020. We’re in a new city, but that’s definitely not all that’s changed. While picking up that last-minute ingredient, it’ll be different watching shoppers in the grocery store with masks that hide smiles, but we know they’ll be safer. I’m looking forward to a great meal, a nap, and saying hello to some wonderful new neighbors. I’m sure we’ll FaceTime distant family and friends and give thanks that we are healthy and that we have great hopes for 2021. – Bob Freeman

Thanksgiving is always a big deal in my family. My excitement driving to the airport to board a plane to fly home is intoxicating. People at the airport have given me some strange glances before as I can’t stop smiling. My dad greets me with a bear hug and I immediately experience the warm feeling of being “home.” My mom’s giddy little dance when she sees me walking through their front door is cute and endearing. Nothing on earth beats the feeling of being embraced by the people I love most in the world. I have always believed that there is “magic in the air” during the holiday season, and my family is the reason why. They are the magic. But due to COVID this year, I can't go home because I would be putting the people I love at risk.

I am lucky to have friends in San Diego that have turned into family. They've embraced me with open arms this Thanksgiving and are bringing me home with them. It won’t be the same, but Thanksgiving is about gratitude for what we do have. If COVID has offered us anything positive, any light in such darkness, it is perspective. As hard as life may seem, there are still so many things to be grateful for: quality friendships, the loved ones we still have with us near and far, and even the fact that we still get to wake up every day and begin anew. We get another day to change our perspective. – Katelyn Griffith

This will be the first year we are missing in action for Thanksgiving Day. We will be traveling to Mayakoba, Mexico with good friends so it will be a nice mix . I am anxious about the spike in cases, so we don’t plan to do any tours or activities with crowds. It will be a get-away to relax and ramp up some energy to finish off the year strong. Last week we had Thanksgiving and perfect weather with extended family. My husband wanted to make sure we still celebrated Thanksgiving to give his mom encouragement because she was recently diagnosed with cancer. She is currently having chemo and her treatments are going as well as they can be. I am thankful for that! – Mary Gutierrez

This Thanksgiving will be both the same and different. John and I got married Thanksgiving weekend in 1980 and honeymooned on the Big Island of Hawaii. We have returned there each Thanksgiving to celebrate our anniversary. We sit on the beach at sunset and reflect on our gratitude for finding each other and the love we have. Then we eat a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner on the beach.

This year will be our 40th anniversary. Our Thanksgiving ritual won’t change if we can get to Hawaii. But that is a big if. Hawaii requires travelers to get a COVID test 72 hours before arriving. It sounds easy, but it is not. The state wants a specific kind of test and only from a few specific providers. We have spent the last three days driving around the city asking various pharmacies if they conduct the approved test. Rather than making sure we pack sunscreen this year we are counting our masks and hand sanitizer. Hopefully, we will get there and once again celebrate our love, gratitude, and of course our good health. – Jane Howze

My family gathers for Christmas so I usually take the opportunity for a quick trip at Thanksgiving. This year, with fewer opportunities to travel, I will be staying home and joining a friend for Thanksgiving. AlthoughI am sorry for the circumstances that are dictating this change, I am looking forward to a very quiet holiday this year. I want to wish everyone a safe Thanksgiving holiday! – Jean Lenzner

We are having a low-key Thanksgiving this year, with just our immediate family and staying local in San Diego. We’re running a “socially-distant” 5k that morning with a group of friends and their kids…which will be better weather conditions than the 10 degrees it was in Massachusetts last year! – Bill Lepiesza

Our Thanksgiving plans are up in the air. The safety of our extended family and friends is first priority. Although we planned to have a small gathering at our house with a couple of overnight house guests, given the uptick in new cases, we may be having Thanksgiving together around Zoom rather than around the table. It’s not ideal but it is temporary, and that has been 2020 in a nutshell. I’m grateful that no one in my family has died from the Coronavirus and would not want to risk anyone’s health. Perhaps we will have a follow-up, in-person Thanksgiving next summer. – John Mann

A typical Thanksgiving for me, like most, is gathering with a large group of family. This year will look very different in many ways; two of the most significant being that it will be the first time in 18 years—the only other time in my life— that I will not spend it with extended family, as well the first time I will celebrate in my own home. With travel being unsafe, and not wanting to put my parents, family, or others at risk, this year I will be with my little family of three.

We intend to make the most of it and enjoy the differences; FaceTiming with those we’ll miss, taking solace in a little extra quiet time and rest, and being grateful for what we do have. Although 2020 has not been an ideal year in so many ways, being an eternal optimist, I believe that we still have much to be grateful for. This year our thanks will be for the forthcoming healing from COVID and world events, having two of the people I love most with me, and the health of my family. I cannot wait to see and hug everyone again as soon as it’s safe but, in the meantime, I feel very fortunate that my loved ones continue to be cautious and responsible, and I find a lot of peace in knowing that they’ll still be here on the other side of everything. That alone, no matter how difficult it can be to stay home, is worth spending Thanksgiving differently this year. – Karin Marshall

My food-obsessed husband has been talking about what we will make for Thanksgiving since September. The plan started with homemade pizza, morphed into turkey pot pie, took a right turn to buying a prepared turkey, to our final destination: cooking our own turkey for two. I don’t know how it happened, considering my marginal interest in the meal itself, but I volunteered to take charge of the turkey preparations. I have never made the turkey before; for the past several years I have relied on the kindness of my sister-in-law. We will be seeing the family for a Zoom toast, but otherwise we are on our own this year. And before we eat, we will give our thanks to the Ohlone Tribe, on whose ancestral land our house sits. – Sarah Mitchell

Although most events of 2020 have been ones I would rather not remember, I will instead remember it as the year my family was complete. My second daughter was born in July, and her healthy arrival will be one of the things for which I’m most thankful this year. My extended family all live within about a block of each other and, since we all believe in science, will be taking the recommendations of the CDC and quarantining so that we may all spend Thanksgiving together, in a socially distanced way. We look forward to Thanksgiving 2021 when we are able to see the fruition of the heroic efforts of scientists, doctors, and nurses who have been on the frontline of the fight against COVID. – Kyle Robinson

While you reflect upon this Thanksgiving 2020, remember that whether this “state” you are in is confused, frustrated, smothered, or hopeful, your attitude is really up to you to decide. COVID only proves that control is an illusion. Rather than try to change the circumstance maybe we should embrace it for the silver lining and the possibilities, imagining that there’s a brighter future just around the corner. As Willie Nelson said: “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” Time to play “On the Road Again.”

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John C. Lamar

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