Again and again, this year has altered many of our plans and has drastically disrupted our day-to-day lives. Covid-19 has affected our work and businesses, school, travel plans, and holidays.
Thanksgiving is yet another special day that we will have to celebrate differently this year. The highly anticipated gathering of family and friends will have to be celebrated on a smaller scale in accordance with recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC.
We’re not surprised if some people are feeling disappointed and unenthusiastic about the new normal. However, nothing can change what Thanksgiving means to us. While some of us can’t be together for the first time on Thanksgiving, there are ways to reach out, connect, and make one another feel special without disregarding health protocols.
If your nana, for instance, is a great cook, one or two extra-absorbent cotton kitchen towels will make a great Thanksgiving gift. Or if your sister can’t fly back home, why not send her a hanging wooden decor to add warmth to her kitchen? These are beautiful ways of saying you are thinking of them even when you can’t be together on Thanksgiving.
Don’t let anything dampen the holiday spirit and take away the real meaning of Thanksgiving. The fact that you and your family are safe and healthy is more than enough reason to be in a celebratory mood.
But how do you downscale your celebrations and ensure that everyone has a good time? Here are a few tips to guide you in celebrating Thanksgiving safely this year.
We can’t stress this enough: safety precautions are there for a reason so take them seriously. Your well-being and that of your family should be top priority. Plan Thanksgiving activities to include the needs and requirements of family members who may have high risks of Covid-19, like seniors, minors, and immunocompromised ones.
CDC recommendations are available on their website, cdc.gov, but in summary, remember the following:
The location of the gathering – Indoor gatherings generally pose more risk than outdoor gatherings. Indoor gatherings with poor ventilation pose more risk than those with good ventilation, such as those with open windows or doors.
The duration of the gathering – Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings.
The number of people at the gathering – Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. CDC does not have a limit or recommend a specific number of attendees for gatherings. The size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability to reduce or limit contact between attendees, the risk of spread between attendees, and state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations.
The locations attendees are traveling from – Gatherings with attendees who are traveling from different places pose a higher risk than gatherings with attendees who live in the same area.
As usual, wash hands frequently, wear masks when outside, practice social distancing, and avoid crowded places as much as possible.
One key factor in celebrating the holiday season is to plan ahead of time to avoid the rush. Plan activities, invitations, Covid-19 preventative steps, as well as food and drinks. In short, make a list of all the major things you need on Thanksgiving.
If possible, do activities outside, whether in your patio or in a nearby park. If you have to stay indoors, however, open windows and sliding doors to properly ventilate your space. Consider your space when making your guest list. If your space is limited and you can’t take the celebration outdoors, better keep your guest list to a minimum. Discourage guests from bringing a plus-one to keep your numbers small.
Planning your menu to include mouth-watering Thanksgiving favorites and refreshing cocktails will help ensure that nothing goes to waste and you have a good variety of food to choose from. Aside from seasonal staples, be adventurous and introduce a new dish or desert. It might just become a new tradition.
If you’re not inviting guests on Thanksgiving this year, that’s great too. It’s the perfect opportunity to have an intimate family affair. Of course, preparations are still necessary even if it’s just you and your immediate family.
Prepare games and fun activities and plan an excellent, satisfying meal. In fact, get everyone on board and make the preparations a family thing too. Ask the kids to suggest what activities they want to do or what games they want to play.
Involve them in the kitchen too. It may look messy and take longer than your usual prep time, especially if your kids are little, but it’s a great bonding time that you should take advantage of. Remember that there are no guests coming over so take as much time as you want together and enjoy the experience.
Making a time capsule may not be a common activity on Thanksgiving Day, but why not start a family tradition?
Let your kids write a note or a letter describing their year so far. Ask them to share their feelings. This is a great opportunity to hear them out, especially if they are the shy type. Later, you may then address the things they shared and help them process things properly.
Lastly, ask them to write the things that they are thankful for and their hopes and wishes for next Thanksgiving. It’s important to close this activity positively, so be ready to give comfort, reassurance, and encouragement.
Cook big and share big. Sharing your blessings is an excellent way of celebrating Thanksgiving, but is it safe to share meals during this pandemic? An article in the New York Times online said that it is generally safe to share food as “the risk of transmitting or catching coronavirus from the act of sharing food or from the food packaging itself is very low, but you should still take precautions."
So yes, you and your family may pack meals for people in shelters, on the streets, etc. Sanitation and CDC’s recommended Covid-19 prevention steps are important when preparing or cooking meals, when packing and unpacking, and when delivering them. It’s also good to avoid food that may cause allergies or lactose intolerance, like nuts and dairy products.
You may also opt to cook meals or bake goodies for family members and friends whom you can’t invite over. Get a nice wicker basket, arrange the goodies inside, pop a bottle of wine, and leave it on their front door for a nice surprise.
Not exactly what any of us have in mind for Thanksgiving Day, but a video call or an online party with loved ones is better than nothing. Again, look at the bright side and count your blessings.
There are countless ways of celebrating the season without risking your health and that of your family. Thanksgiving Day, after all, is about celebrating the harvest and the blessings of the year. Take heart and give thanks because you’re here.