Thanksgiving occurs next week on Nov. 26. It’s usually a time for lots of food and quality time spent with family. And that fundamental idea doesn’t need to change during this pandemic. In Connecticut, sometimes there is snow and sometimes there are sweaters. But every year, there is food and friends. At my Thanksgiving celebrations, I get to enjoy a buffalo chicken dip appetizer followed by roasted turkey doused in gravy with a side of mashed potatoes and string beans. Then comes a second plate filled with stuffing, cranberry Jell-O and manicotti. After a long period of sitting around the table and digesting food, my Italian family spends the evening talking and laughing. Later, it’s time for an assortment of cookies, pies, ice cream and cakes. With COVID-19 cases rising and holidays around the corner, the question is, how will Thanksgiving be celebrated this year? Will there have to be smaller gatherings? Will tables have to be moved outside and seats separated six feet apart? What happens to the football games, or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade? How do college students return home safely without putting anyone at risk? I’m here to tell you Thanksgiving this year might be celebrated differently, but it most definitely can be celebrated safely!
In 1863, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a holiday for each November. Today, Thanksgiving is a holiday centered on cooking a bountiful meal of delicious foods that are shared with family and friends. Usually, the day is started with Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, where balloons and performances walk down the streets of New York City. Ever since 1924, except during World War II, 3.5 million people have watched as a parade of 8,000 people make their way down a 2.5-mile route. This year, there will be no audience watching, no high school and college bands performing and no parade going down the streets. Instead, the event will be centered in Herald Square, with only a few balloon floats driven by vehicles (not guided by people, accompanied by performances from musicians and Broadway musicals. Sure, it might not be the same, but at least the day can start with a televised classic slightly reimagined.
There might not be football games at every high school or college on Thanksgiving, a time when the weather is cold and alma maters return for a game to show their support. But, the NFL is still planning on playing their televised football games this year, so all those who wish to watch or have it on in the background of their festivities can enjoy keeping up with their favorite team this Thanksgiving.
The biggest concern this holiday season is being able to celebrate with others in a safe environment. The easiest solution would be to eat dinner with only immediate family. For those who still want to see their extended family and friends, there are some options for celebrating without posing a risk to others. Some people can decide to wear masks while others can decide to sit 6 feet apart. Some families can bring their own food, plates, drinks, cups and utensils. Outdoor gatherings are also a potential solution, but if the weather is too cold, try opening windows and limiting the number of people invited. Even with a smaller crowd, Thanksgiving can be just as fun. Imagine online shopping for Black Friday deals, playing games with the family and watching movies, all while limiting contact with others. As a college student returning home to see my elderly grandmothers and my parents, who both work in a hospital setting, I have done my mandatory testing and am limiting contact until I move out on Saturday to go home because there is nothing I want more than to hug my family. There is no way to guarantee that I won’t be bringing anything home with me, but the hope is that all college students will follow the rules leading up to this week to enjoy a safe Thanksgiving.