Thanksgiving in the Time of COVID

For so many Americans, Thanksgiving kicks off a season of family togetherness. After Thanksgiving in November, the calendar turns into December, leading us to Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, rolling us right into New Year’s and a time to turn over a new leaf, whatever that looks like this year. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has led many to rethink these times of togetherness and sharing spaces, as sharing spaces means potentially sharing other things that go beyond turkey and Uncle Brad’s stories and Aunt Jeanie’s cheek pinches.

In these times, Thanksgiving preparations look a little different. We know so many families are hurting right now, from loss of income to loss of a loved one, and with not wanting to add to the growing numbers of COVID cases we see still present around us, so many families are getting creative to make plans that allow for everyone to be safe. How can your family stay safe while staying connected? Well, it’s all in using what resources you have as best you can, from food to time to a strong WiFi connection! We have a few suggestions you may want to try. 

1. Zoom calls!

We know, right now everyone seems to have Zoom fatigue to one degree to another, but truly, one of the best ways you can stay connected to those you love is by sharing a meal, in your own spaces, digitally. There are many platforms for meeting virtually, from FaceTime and Skype to Google Meets and Zoom. It’s all in what you prefer! And, for the first time since their inception, Zoom is lifting their usual 45 minute call limit for Thanksgiving. So, now you can create a Zoom link together, sharing a meal, laughs, and stories while keeping everyone safe and healthy at home.

2. Take dining outside!

If you live in an area where the weather is a little more forgiving for an outdoor Thanksgiving feast, a recommended concept is taking the meal outside. If safety precautions are taken (masks while not eating, lots of sanitizer and chances for disinfecting, individual portion servings, and tables distanced 6 feet apart with seating arrangements made by household per table), it is a safer bet if you absolutely must gather. Keep everyone outdoors and distanced and use disposable/recyclable serving products for a safer way to share space. Also, potluck style could work for this arrangement as well, with each family bringing their own food, eliminating the concern for contamination of dishes.

3. Single servings to go!

If you have a family member who takes pleasure in being in charge of all of the cooking, this year doesn’t necessarily have to be different. One recommendation is to create single serving meal and dessert portions to go, where another family member is in charge of dropping off meals at each home for all to enjoy. This is a great way to honor a family cooking tradition, still allowing everyone to savor the same meal, all in their own spaces. You can even put together packages of the ingredients for the meal and deliver them to your loved ones to allow them to prepare them on their own – sharing in the prep work as well as the meal. This also works for those less fortunate – if you know a family or two who is struggling, the gift of a meal could make a world of difference, especially around the holidays.

4. Get social on social media!

With nearly everyone being active on one form of social media or another, togetherness is possible even when apart! Create a Facebook event to connect even those furthest away, invite everyone to “come” to the event at the same time, and share recipes, pictures, and stories of your holiday spent apart. This can create a digital time capsule as well; stories and pictures in a Facebook event can become archived for you to return to when you need to look up how Aunt Edna made the perfect cranberry stuffing or to mark how quickly your cousin’s twins have grown. A bonus to this type of event is it can be replicated for other holidays that you may not all be able to gather for one reason or another – creating a digital family yearbook of sorts to be shared and added to for generations to come.

5. Start a new tradition!

No matter how your family decides to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, it’s not a bad idea to start a new tradition or two. Those can be something as simple as someone else making the turkey this year to give Grandma the year off or something as creative as Uncle Henry cataloging memories in a digital scrapbook to be saved and cherished for decades to come. We know how disappointing it can be to have to adjust plans, and if there is one lesson 2020 has taught us, it is to be flexible and to know how to adapt to change when we must. Regardless of what hand this year has dealt us, we’ve all had to become skilled in adapting to what comes next. It will be the memories we make now, when the world looks a little less like the one we knew, that color the future for generations to come.

Wherever you are, however you choose to gather with those you love, we hope you have a safe and happy holiday.

*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.

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