COVID-19 Update: Not Your Usual Thanksgiving This Year

It is worth repeating that 2020 is unlike any year in most of our lifetimes.

This is clearly evident as the biggest travel period in the USA approaches. 

The tradition of seeing our families and friends over Thanksgiving has been tinged with the pall of the COVID-19 pandemic. What was a traditionally lucrative set of days for the travel industry, with packed planes, trains, buses, highways, restaurants, hotels, and such has become an uncertainty. 

I’ve heard the tome of many people opting not to do a Thanksgiving with their families. Not just families that require travel, but even locally. That has already put a damper on the holiday season ahead. 

In parts of Europe, a second set of lockdowns have taken place that had a few leniencies based on the original restrictions from earlier this year. Many state governments in this country are following suit with a new set of restrictions targeting specific activities that may spark COVID-19 outbreaks.

Right now, the number of cases in this country are climbing beyond the levels seen earlier in 2020. Healthcare officials are now experiencing what was feared back in March with hospitals overtaxed with new patients – especially in the Intensive Care Units. In turn, overflow centers will have to open up quickly to take on the extra patients that are experiencing symptoms needing hospitalization.

Minnesota already announced some retrenching of some guidelines focusing on restaurants and bars. That includes a closing time of 10:00 PM and reduced capacity at these establishments. There are also restrictions on weddings, funerals, and other private social gatherings. The latter has a limit of 10 people or three households.

Another recent guideline was introduced that urged Minnesotans to keep to their Thanksgiving gatherings just within their immediate family at home. They also urged college students living on- or off-campus statewide to not travel home for Thanksgiving. All in the name of getting this virus under control.  

As for having Thanksgiving feasts at restaurants, forget that, too! Governor Tim Walz just announced a four-week closure of dine-in establishments across Minnesota. If you want a Thanksgiving feast from a restaurant, you might as well pick it up from there or have it delivered.

Yes, it sucks. It really sucks. 

It could be worse. Great Britain recently imposed a series of regional restrictions on who can be at a household at one time. One YouTube couple living in the England's Northeast region reported that a third person related to either one is allowed in their home – and no more than that. Not even friends were allowed to come over. This was before Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement earlier this month explaining the restrictions pertaining to their second national lockdown. 

With all of this to take in, how will you do your annual traditional Thanksgiving gathering? 

We know that technology might not replace having your family and friends around the dinner table. You cannot replicate the smell of stuffing, fresh cornbread, and other staples of the Thanksgiving feast through Zoom. You cannot fight over a turkey leg on a conference call. 

There is one thing you can do together – watch one of the Thanksgiving Day NFL games virtually. Or, by FaceTime. 

However, there are some of us who might be considering taking a risk and travel this holiday season. If you do so, please be safe. Understand what guidelines are in place in each location – home, your destination, and any stops along the way. Wear a mask, especially in communities, travel conveyances, and certain locations that have mandates for them. 

Some might think that flattening the curve on COVID-19 may also include keeping your stomach from expanding beyond capacity. Or, getting drowsy off of the tryptophan. Who knows? All that is missing is the tradition that induces such gastronomical behavior. 

Sadly, this might not be your traditional Thanksgiving this year. But, do not despair. You can have the happiest of holidays in more ways than you think.

Please do enjoy this year the best way you can. There will be a better holiday next year!

All photos by Randy Stern

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