Thanksgiving, a time of abundance, celebration, and above all else, togetherness, looks considerably different this year. Global pandemics really put a damper on group festivities, traveling, and essentially all the annual rituals we tend to associate with the holiday. The writing has been on the walls for months, but it’s only just starting to hit home now. No endless buffets of home cooked excess, no tight, endless hugs with mom or dad, no laughing over a dwindling fire about our embarrassing childhood stories. Instead, I’ll walk in the door to an echoing, empty home. A vacant dinner table. A cold kitchen.
Although I’m alone physically, I know my situation isn’t special. Everyone’s in the same emotional boat, flailing about, rowing frantically just to avoid capsizing. It’s hard, it’s awful, but it would be so much worse to get sick, or make someone else sick. Fighting the very human nature that calls us together as a community goes against everything instilled in us since birth. This Thanksgiving will be a test of endurance, though it doesn’t have to mean days, or weeks, of self-imposed suffering.
Let’s do this thing together, separately. What does that look like in practice? For me, it means paring down the bountiful feast to just the essentials. At bare minimum, it’s simply not Thanksgiving without:
- Potatoes, Preferably Mashed, with Gravy
- A Green Vegetable, Such as Brussels Sprouts or Green Beans
- Some Sort of Protein, Be it Baked Tofu or a Prepared Cutlets
- Anything with Pumpkin for Dessert
- BONUS: A Bottle of Wine
Don’t go crazy. Don’t make enough for an army. Don’t even turn on the oven if it’s too much. You can easily fill out this menu with delivery or prepared dishes from the grocery store, at a fraction of the cost of the typical, enormous spread.
That’s all it takes. More importantly, don’t forget to invite everyone you know and love! No, don’t actually have them over, but get them on the line with Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, Facebook, WHATEVER. Throw their faces up on the big screen TV if you’ve got it, put the monitor right on the table with you, and pull up a chair.
It’s hard to be thankful when so many obstacles have been thrown in our path this year. Not a single person on this planet has gotten off easy. No one can claim to be unaffected. There’s still so much in life to be grateful for, and I know I’m going to make the most of it, no matter what. There’s nothing stopping me from enjoying the traditional foods I love for the holidays, or enjoying time spent with the people I cherish. Cheers, to brighter days ahead; let’s eat!