Q: Okay, okay! You convinced us. “Normal” Thanksgiving is off this year. But how CAN we celebrate safely?
A: Focus on the spirit of the holiday. Stay outdoors. Keep it small. Don’t travel. Get creative. Keep your distance.
Yes, unfortunately, the usual Thanksgiving traditions are *a very bad idea* this year for the vast majority of us who couldn’t do a 14-day quarantine before the holiday.
Dr. Robin Schoenthaler, a writer and radiation oncologist at Massachusetts General and Emerson Hospital in Boston, has been blogging about the pandemic. She wrote this amazing post about her own decision-making around Thanksgiving in the time of COVID. We love this quote: “So basically Thanksgiving is like ‘The Children’s Illustrated Guide To A Super Spreader Event.’”
Funny, but not funny.
Problem areas for this holiday (and yes, many other winter holidays too) include:
✔️ multiple families/households coming together
✔️ several generations coming together when they don’t normally
✔️ no masks
✔️ eating & talking
✔️ long duration, plus
✔️ lots of travel around the country.
(Also we really recommend her blog, it is terrific.)
We hope we have convinced you that hosting or attending a traditional Thanksgiving gathering is off the table for this year.
But what do we do with ourselves on Turkey day? Here are a few safer alternatives. Take your pick, or mix and match!
🔥 Have an outdoor gathering of local friends & family. You can spend some time together (keep it brief) and enjoy some hot apple cider or pie. Since you are not likely to be wearing masks while you eat and drink, keep your distance between household bubbles! Too cold? Have a bonfire–or just wear your snowmobile suit!
📮 Secret Turkey your neighbors. Write anonymous thank-you notes and drop them in neighbors’ mailboxes. Challenge them to do the same to spread the spirit of thankfulness all over your neighborhood.
🥫 Have a food drive. Post on Nextdoor that you’re collecting donations, put a bin on your doorstep, and let people drop off non-perishable food. Then take it to the local food pantry.
🍗 Cook Thanksgiving dinner in advance and drop off trays to your family members. You can leave it on the porch or meet them at the door. Have your ingredients delivered from the grocery store and stock up on aluminum trays this week!
🙏 Do some mindfulness meditations that focus on gratitude. Just google “gratitude meditation” for dozens of options.
💭 Take a pause and think about the things you’re not going to miss. The holiday season can be a lot of stress, expense, and extra work–and even sometimes seems like more work than it’s worth. Maybe taking a year off is something to celebrate for you. Maybe there’s something you’re a little bit grateful to not be doing.
💰 Donate the money you would have spent on hosting a big meal to your favorite charity.
🦃 Go for a wild turkey “hunt.” In most parts of the country, you can find wild turkeys wandering the woods or even suburban neighborhoods! See if you can spot some. Or, go on a neighborhood walk and see if you can spot some turkey decorations. Note: wild turkeys are protected. Please do not actually hunt them without a license.
🦞 Take this pause to try out some new Thanksgiving recipes that might have been too risky for a big family event. Learn what was on the original Thanksgiving menu.
🏃♀️ Run a virtual Turkey Trot. This one even has t-shirts and medals!
🦅 Learn (maybe for the first time) about the real history of Thanksgiving and the central role of the Wampanoag native people in that harvest. Find out what native people inhabited the place where you live before Europeans arrived. You could even make a recipe from their food tradition to honor the important role that Native Americans played in the origin story of the United States, at tremendous expense to native ways of life.
💓 Perhaps most importantly: ask yourself what this holiday really means to you. 👪 Is it family? Then commit to protecting your family this year. 🥧 Is it pie? Well then by all means, enjoy some pie! Do the things that mean the most to you in a way that satisfies you. Be sure to ask your kids what the holiday means to them, too–it will probably give you a whole new perspective on Thanksgiving!
Hopefully, that gives you a few ideas for how to have a safer–and still very thankful–big day.