Thanksgiving this year is like no other. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is virtual. Our gatherings are small. And maybe there won’t be any gatherings at all. In a nutshell, to Thanksgiving or not to Thanksgiving is a dilemma that many of us, myself included, are facing.
I’d like to say that holding a 2020 Thanksgiving get-together is a slam dunk. My immediate family including my sons and their significant others, plus my husband, would, of course join me for a celebratory meal. I guess you could say that they comprise my “bubble.” But it’s way more complicated than that. Realistically, there’s no such thing as a sanitary “bubble.” Every one of us has had some sort of interaction with people outside of the bubble even if we follow all necessary health precautions and minimize interpersonal contact. Unless you all live together under one roof, the concept of a complete bubble can be something of a pipe dream.
So that brings me to the dilemma at hand: do we celebrate Thanksgiving as a family in person or hold another clunky virtual meal? I’m completely torn.
Guidelines suggest that you should hold an in-person dinner in a spacious room, not gathered around a small table, with strong airflow and ventilation surrounding you. Don’t invite elders, don’t invite cousins you haven’t seen for months, and don’t invite anyone who needs to fly into your hometown.
But what do you do if you can’t comply with those suggestions? For example, what is the protocol if you live in a small apartment, rather than a house, and your dining room table IS cramped and cozy.
I live in New York City in a Manhattan apartment that would not be called an estate by any stretch of the imagination. It’s comfortable and great for an intimate party, but not necessarily for a socially distanced event with grand stretches of room between individuals. There’s no outdoor terrace and the apartment has limited cross-ventilation. I have a few fans that I can place in the few windows that surround the dining room, and I can turn on the kitchen exhaust, but I’m concerned that it’s not enough. And to require everyone to wear masks at all times except when actively eating or drinking seems unappealing.
I’m at the crossroads of a decision here. Every day I read the suggestions of people in the medical field counseling against holding small indoor gatherings. And every day the thought of not seeing my family in person makes me increasingly despondent. Three of us have already had Covid, three of us have not. Two of us go to work outside of the home daily, with one person interacting with children as part of his job. One other has just traveled out of state to visit friends, requiring testing before being able to return and then mandatory quarantine and testing following.
I wish someone had a crystal ball to allay my doubts, to tell me that all will be fine, and the spacing, masks, dining, open windows and more will make the Thanksgiving gathering worries unnecessary. So, as I sit here and ponder what my holidays will be like this year, I’m at a loss for answering. Can I handle another zoom event, particularly on Thanksgiving? I’m not sure. Perhaps the answer will come to me in a vision or a dream. I’m still waiting.