My first job out of college was on a newspaper copydesk. This means I worked nights, weekends, and holidays. I spent several years not seeing my family for Thanksgiving. Once a friend and I got together for a Cornish hen lunch before my shift started. A few years later, my in-laws-to-be arranged to eat super early so I could join them. Skipping holidays was just a thing you did, because you had to get the newspaper out.
Skipping holidays is also a thing you get used to when you’re Jewish. We don’t automatically get our holidays off. So I haven’t always seen my family for Passover, the High Holidays, Purim or Sukkot. When I was a kid, my district didn’t close for Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, meaning my parents had to sign me out of school those days. Missing a day’s worth of schoolwork to spend a chunk of that day in synagogue is not the party time you think it is.
And I’ll be super honest here: I was never under the impression that Thanksgiving is this wonderful perfect family occasion for most people. I thought it was more “Home for the Holidays.” People eat too much, people argue, people ignore their visiting relatives because the football game is on and apparently more interesting (just me?). And hosting means the added stress of cleaning and cooking and remembering who likes to eat what, and how to entertain the kids while also preventing them from snarfing all the cheese and crackers. And if the guests are staying with you, then you’re also planning breakfasts and lunches, multiple days, and no matter how big your home is, it suddenly feels small.
So, because it’s safer, we’re staying home on Thanksgiving. We’ll miss our family, but we’re not having them over. And we’re … kinda happy about it.
The house will be messy. The kids will be watching the parade on TV in their pajamas. We’ll be eating hors d’oeuvres for lunch and the usual turkey, stuffing, etc., for dinner. All of the food, none of the stress.
I know people are already clogging the airports so they can travel for the holiday, and I have multiple unprintable thoughts about that. But for those of you who also read the news and see virus cases rising and are staying home, I’m letting you know you’re not alone and you’re allowed to enjoy the day. It’s going to be peaceful and quiet, and case numbers are probably going to skyrocket in a week so we should take all the peace and quiet we can get.
Because I was out getting groceries yesterday, and I saw one guy with his mask down around his chin, and another who pulled the mask off entirely to answer the phone.
Because a fellow parent, a few weeks ago, told me that his neighbor’s mother had died. When the parent walked over to offer condolences, the neighbor said, “The doctors said she died of covid, but I don’t believe them.”
This is where we are. This is why it’s going to get worse. You’re doing the right thing by staying home, and you’re keeping away from the people who won’t take proper safety precautions in the middle of a pandemic because they still think the pandemic is fake.
Keep calm, protect yourself, have some turkey. I’ve got a short story to revise; how about you? Can you use the time to be creative?
We don’t know what will happen next, but we can control how we spend our day. I hope it’s everything you want it to be. Happy Thanksgiving.