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COVID-19 and a new version of Thanksgiving

While 99% of the impacts of COVID-19 have been negative, I will stand to argue that we should strive to look for the 1% positive – the silver linings of this massive slap-in-the-face of a year. For my family and my sanity, an altered Thanksgiving plan is part of my 1% this year.


We are blessed that our traditional Thanksgiving holiday is defined by the word “busy” – I recognize not everyone has this luxury. But as I strive for a different, calmer lifestyle (less busy, more present), this is a challenge for me. Our typical Thanksgiving involves my husband getting up to run Buffalo’s annual Turkey Trot race, I do some last-minute cooking and scrambling and pack up my two kids to go over to my mom’s. We cook all morning, battle naptime in an unfamiliar environment, and then eat an early “first dinner” around 2pm. We attempt to button our pants back up and head over to the next family party across town, to eat again around 5pm. We mingle, we eat, then we pack up and drive across town to the next engagement: the late-night dinner at my aunt’s house – usually arriving around 8pm to find dinner being served. Pack-and-play in tow, we put the kids to bed somewhere, then stay up late socializing and lamenting how full we are. And it’s great and fun and it’s what we always do! And we recover on Black Friday, which feels adeptly named as my general feeling is usually exhaustion and “ugh”.



So, what are we going to do this year? The Turkey Trot has been reinvented virtually, and multiple, large family parties are a no-go for us, for more than just logistical reasons this year. It’s weird. It’s disappointing. But it’s also… exciting.


I am excited to treat this day differently and am hopeful that this might be the beginning of a new tradition for our family. Less obligations, less excess – more time, more rest, more presence. Maybe the whole family can venture out for a casual walk or run that day. Maybe we can savor the time in the kitchen or try a new recipe, since we won’t be held to a specific mealtime. Maybe we can linger over our meal, instead of rushing to the next one. Maybe we can rearrange plans so we can still see the other family members in safer ways over the remainder of the long weekend (we’ve already talked about starting a new tradition to get together with my husband’s family for a Black Friday dinner party instead). Maybe we can just do less and enjoy more.


When it feels hard and sad to miss out on long-standing traditions this year (like the Turkey Trot or celebrating with family the same way we have in the past) – and it will feel hard and sad – I will challenge myself to think of the 1% benefit of COVID: forcing me to examine how I can achieve my goal of a less stressful, calmer holiday season this year and for years to come.

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