Thanksgiving is Very Different
Coronavirus COVID-19 has taken a lot from us this year. Seniors lost the joys of graduation. Grandparents lost the intimacy of family visits. Children lost the normalcy of playing with friends. And millions lost jobs and loved ones due to the potency of the virus.
But as I woke up on this Thanksgiving Day, I couldn’t help but realize that we’ve lost something else. A day based on a troubling past for Native peoples, Thanksgiving is very different this year. Typically, American families gather together with those whom they haven’t seen all year to eat a huge feast and celebrate what they’re thankful for. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the CDC recommends that we celebrate the day exclusively with those who live in our immediate households. They report that:
“more than 1 million COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States in the last 7 days. As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with. Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu.“
In other words, COVID-19 has even taken Thanksgiving for many. But in spite of disappoint surrounding this the day is meant for giving thanks. How can we remain cheerful and not dwell on the immense grief and loss?
5 Ways to Enjoy a Socially Distanced Thanksgiving
1. Zoom or FaceTime with your friends and family
One of the hardest things to do is be away from family that you typically see on Thanksgiving. But sometimes it’s best to prioritize your family member’s health, than your desire to physically be in their presence. Because of this, while it might not be advantageous for you to gather around the table you can always call. Technology has come to the point where you can video chat family from anywhere around the world. Find some time for everyone to hop on a zoom call and laugh and talk together.
2. Spend the day mourning
The truth is this is tough. There’s no getting around it. Particularly for many of you who lost family members due to COVID-19. Coming to a holiday and now having to reflect on how your dad use to cut the turkey, or how your mom made the best dish, or your brother cracked the best jokes, or your cousin brought the best desserts is not easy. While today is about giving thanks, it’s also important to feel your feelings. Don’t pretend. If today is emotionally difficult for you, that’s ok. It is perfectly normal and even healthy to mourn on Thanksgiving. Particularly when you’re in the middle of a pandemic.
3. Cook all your favorite dishes
Listen, cooking makes me happy. Eating makes me happy. So one of the best ways I am going to enjoy this day is to eat all my favorites. Whatever you love to eat with all your family make that today. Especially for those of you who are single and may live alone. If you can’t get around a table of friends or family, who says you can’t eat and enjoy yourself! Make yourself a personal feast, call your friends and family, and enjoy relaxing and reflecting today.
4. Watch some of your favorite shows or movies
Another Thanksgiving great is to watch amazing shows or movies. Every year my family kicks off the holidays with movies on Thanksgiving. We start with the Sound of Music and end on December 25th with White Christmas. Today is a great day to tune in to some awesome old movie classics and start your holiday film marathon. Great music and laughter always make a difficult day better.
5. Spend time in prayer and God’s Word
A critical practice for today is time in prayer and God’s Word. Like I said before, Thanksgiving is very different, the times in which we live are very different, and so time in the presence of God is critical. Listen for His voice. Talk to Him about what you’re disappointed about, but also praise Him for what you’re thankful for. Situations like this are always hard because we believe that God is distant. But God is only distant in these moments when we fail to bring Him close. Bring God into the close, intimate places in your heart today as you navigate a very different Thanksgiving.