Staying Apart, Together: I'm still thankful for Thanksgiving

Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY
·3 min read
The Thanksgiving turkey leads off the parade  on Central Park West at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.
The Thanksgiving turkey leads off the parade on Central Park West at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.

I don't have one Thanksgiving tradition. I have a slew of them.

When I was little, my family lived in Illinois, but most of my extended family lived in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Often Thanksgiving was just me, my parents and my two sisters.

Later we moved to the East Coast, and started going to my aunt's apartment in Manhattan every year (you'd be amazed just how many aunts, uncles, cousins, cousins-once-removed, friends and dogs you can fit into a one-bedroom apartment). After I met my husband, we started alternating holidays, and I got to enjoy a few turkey days at his mom's and grandmother's houses. One year I had to work on Thanksgiving, and I took the train home from D.C. late Thursday night, and the only food available at the Union Station food court was some truly terrible pizza.

Like you, I'm sad, disappointed and frustrated that I can't have a big Thanksgiving with my family this year. So I am reframing my thoughts to focus on what I'm gaining (new traditions to make in my new house, a day off from work, a day to bake a pie and so many Thanksgiving episodes of "Friends" to watch) instead of what I'm losing. I know that's easier said than done, but I hope all of you can focus on what you have to be thankful for, too. In a year with so much instability, tragedy and loss, I'm thankful for every day that I get.

And certainly any way we celebrate Thanksgiving this year is better than that sad train station pizza.

For Thanksgiving: There is no better choice than watching "Friends" and its famous Thanksgiving episodes during the November holiday.
For Thanksgiving: There is no better choice than watching "Friends" and its famous Thanksgiving episodes during the November holiday.

Today's safe Thanksgiving tips

There is a lot of information, noise and familial pressure when it comes to what to do for Thanksgiving this year. USA TODAY rounded up expert advice and tips for staying safe while celebrating.

  • Stay home. The safest way to spend Thursday is at home with your immediate household. In multiple interviews, Dr. Anthony Fauci has expressed concern that holiday celebrations could further increase transmission rates of the coronavirus. He advises Americans forgo their big, traditional holiday plans. Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager says, "We understand that people want to see their family and relatives ... But this year we’re asking them to limit their travel.” There are several options for you to connect with family for a virtual holiday dinner.

  • Keep gatherings very small. In a recent study, researchers found homes are now the main source for COVID-19 transmissions. Invite only those who you know in your pod or bubble, and ask if anyone has had any recent health issues before they come over. Some states have restricted the number of people who can gather in one place. Family members might assume that their loved ones are not infected simply because they know them well, but unfortunately, that's not the case.

  • Mask, six feet and wash your hands. If people outside your immediate family are visiting, remember these three things: Wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands. Mercedes Carnethon, vice chair of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, encouraged people to wear masks and maintain social distance into the holiday season. "We have to sustain this level of vigilance at this time, and it’s very hard over the holidays," she said. "As I think about not seeing my family, it's really hard. But that chance can be a real gamble – almost a Russian roulette."

See all our expert tips here. And please stay safe.

If it has to be Zoom, you'll still have a lovely time. I promise.
If it has to be Zoom, you'll still have a lovely time. I promise.

Today's reads

Could COVID-19 bring an end to traditional Black Friday holiday shopping?
Could COVID-19 bring an end to traditional Black Friday holiday shopping?

Happy Thanksgiving one and all.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: I'm still thankful for Thanksgiving