Journalcalling #9 – Thanksgiving 2020

Journalcalling   •   November 14, 2020

After being away for four nights, I was excited to see my husband. We embraced in a tight hug, and within about 10 minutes … we were arguing over plans for Thanksgiving.

I had recently suggested that we host a small gathering at our home with our four local children and their partners and received a yellowish green light from Peter.

First, it was whether or not we had a big enough table. We do. Then, I did a 180 with the realization that we should really eat at small, separate tables spaced out in different rooms around the house. I began designing individual, festive fall tabletops in my head. When the feast is ready, we could call each couple or family up to the buffet one at a time, and we would all wear masks unless we were eating. This had Peter flashing red.

“Masks in the house?”
“Yes. Like in a restaurant, you can remove it to eat.”
“And I’ll have to put one on to go to my own bathroom?”
Big sigh with eye roll.

If we get the conditions right, I offered, our darling, brand-new granddaughter and 21-month-old grandson may be among us. Their mom is an ER nurse who rightly follows these precautions. While discussing this, she suggested a family hike instead which got my wheels turning in a different direction.

“What if we pack turkey sandwiches and fixings and celebrate Thanksgiving outside with a picnic?”
My husband: “You’re kidding.”
“No, it’s perfect. We could bring back The Amazing Family Race.”

For several years as part of our Christmas celebration we had two teams of our children racing up the side of a small mountain to earn bragging rights and their names on a trophy. Competition was fierce with squabbling over the picking of teams and plenty of shenanigans like messing with the maps to sabotage the competition.

They were memorable family times filled with such laughter that provided entertaining fodder for my holiday card. Since March, we’ve had a couple of outdoor, socially distanced gatherings, but as the early darkness and cold arrive, we don’t quite know how to proceed without more dreaded meetings on the Zoom screen.

Though I have never hosted a Thanksgiving, I am desperate to do this. Normally, my Irish family gathers with 40 at a time with my mom and aunts seamlessly running the turkey day show. With appetizer in hand, we’d drive to Connecticut where most of my extended family lives and have met every year on this holiday since I was a small child.

This year, only the elders are getting together. One has had a brush with Covid, and even though I’m in my sixth decade and as the oldest grandchild I’ve sat at the adult table since I was about 8, they are sorry but I’m now part of the out-of-state generation that cannot be invited.

So, less than two weeks out, I’m staying open and flexible with more than a few plans on the holiday table:

Plan A: Lovely unseasonably warm Thanksgiving Day dawns and my husband and I arrive at a tranquil outdoor park with a hamper full of hearty food and beverage to enjoy with our children and their families after a romp through wooded trails.

Plan B: It’s a cold, damp day and we convince our children to don their long underwear and dress in layers for a spirited, family race. This will warm their bodies so they may spend time outdoors eating a meal. (We will get a lot of flak for this.)

Plan C: Dinner inside our cozy home with precautions noted above eventually agreed to by husband. The CDC is also on my side. They just recommended we should only celebrate Thanksgiving indoors with the people we live with OR with a gathering of 10 or less with masks. That’s us! Add: Single-use plastic utensils, open windows and social distancing.
How to celebrate.

Plan D: If weather makes Plan A & B impossible, and things change and Plan C is overruled, stay home alone with husband –who hates turkey.

Big sigh. Tight hug.