10 People Tell Us How They’re Still Making Thanksgiving Special In A Pandemic

By | Thursday, November 26, 2020

“As far as I’m concerned, we’ll be eating turkey Hot Pockets. But at least we’ll be safe.”

Confession time. Yes, I’m seeing my immediate family for Thanksgiving this year. Since I work from home and almost never leave the house (save for a Trader Joe’s trip which involves slathering myself in hand sanitizer every 10 minutes while obviously wearing my mask), and since I know my parents never leave the house either, we agreed that having a small Thanksgiving dinner would be safe-ish.

Do I 100% know it’s safe? No, I don’t. But knowing that, even up until now, I’ve taken all precautions and safety mandates seriously, I feel okay about making the drive to San Diego for a few hours and back. Currently, I live in LA, which is about an hour-and-a-half drive from San Diego. On top of needing to be back home to make the city’s curfew (10 pm), I also can’t leave my puppy alone for too long.

Then on Saturday, my husband and I will partake in our own Thanksgiving plans, by indulging in all our favorite sides, while I bake way too many pies. It’s actually a standing tradition, we have.

Yet, with all the safety precautions and plans in place, I’m feeling antsy about this upcoming holiday season. My extended family may want to do something for Hanukkah, and I have no idea what a Los Angeles’ “soft” lockdown will look like by then, or if COVID numbers will go up or down (we were doing OK for a while in LA, but recently we hit 6,124 reported cases). Based on this COVID map, Los Angeles is “in the orange,” meaning means we’re seeing 40 cases out of 100,000 people. Also, outdoor dining will be shut down starting Wednesday, and I’m not sure where we go from here.

This made me wonder what other people actually have planned this holiday week: Are they planning to risk it all for dinner with family and friends? If so, what kinds of precautions are they taking? Will they have to travel? Just how far do we go to be safe, and when is it okay to slightly bend the rules (if it ever is okay?)

Recently, I took to social media to pose the question and ask what everyone was doing for Thanksgiving à la pandemic.

Special Delivery During COVID — Literally

“I have COVID, and so does my husband and son, so my mom is cooking our meal and delivering it to us. Since she is doing all the cooking, I’m reimbursing her for the grocery bill. We are fortunate to have mild cases so far and we hope to still have our sense of taste!”

-Allison Buettner, Maryland

Downsizing The Guestlist

“I’m going to my parents since they live nearby and I’ve seen them fairly often in the last eight months. My sister and I who don’t live with them had to get tested to go but especially me since I’m out and about for work and see a few friends fairly often. We’re definitely missing out on the big family Thanksgiving which my aunt is hosting but we know it’s just better this way.”

-Sam, Los Angeles

Party Of 2 1/2

“Even before the pandemic hit, my husband and I planned on making this the Thanksgiving where we did and ate what we wanted, not what we believed we were supposed to do. And given the travel restrictions and the surging cases in San Diego where we live, we’re keeping our plan of Thanksgiving to just the two of us and our puppy, Jagger.  Instead of a turkey, we’ll be feasting on spicy chicken sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, cucumber salad, and chocolate chip cookies. I’m so excited! I’ve been drooling over this menu for the past month. It may not be a Thanksgiving like we’ve ever experienced before or experience ever again, so we’re choosing to make the most out of this day. We’re grateful we have our health, a home, food on the table, and most of all, we’re grateful for each other.”
-Katie, San Diego

Thanksgiving TV Dinner

“We [my partner and I] ordered a bunch of sides from Bristol Farms! Going to eat and watch Thanksgiving episodes of New Girl and Friends

-Veronica, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Home Alone

Originally my boyfriend and I planned to spend Thanksgiving all day together, but last minute decided it would be safe to just get together on Friday. I went to a Friendsgiving in (Washington) DC last week, and he has his son that day, and they’ll both be spending Thanksgiving at his mother’s house. My boyfriend’s mother is susceptible to illness, so the fewer people, the better. I’m usually the head of the kitchen on Thanksgiving for my own family, so it feels good to not have to lift a finger that day.

Tami, New Jersey

Quarantined Prepped & Ready To Go

“We are going to Vegas to spend Thanksgiving at my mother-in-law’s house. Super scared to go, but at the same time, all of us quarantined in preparation for Thanksgiving. It will be my three families together, so eight people in total”

-Anonymous, LA County

Keeping It Close But Distant

“We’re doing outdoor distanced seating at [my partner’s] folks’ and I’m leaving a pie on my mom’s doorstep.”

-Anonymous, LA County

Digital Diggin’ In

“[We] held a virtual Friendsgiving where we all cooked one recipe together. We all cooked mushroom ravioli ate together and had a wonderful time virtually while enjoying an activity and some good food. We are holding another one for Thanksgiving. My office actually held another virtual Thanksgiving dinner by bringing in a chef based out of Kalamazoo, Michigan for everyone to get together and cook together (virtually).”
-Zunerah, Michigan

Tough Turkey

“Thanksgiving has never been my favorite holiday, but this year I feel a very weird (and probably imaginary) pressure to make it special. I’ll be far away from my family, celebrating with my two quarantined roommates: my boyfriend and his mom. In an effort to muster up holiday cheer, I announced I’ll be making dishes passed down to me from my dear departed grandmothers. The only problem is, with Thanksgiving now —what?— three days away, New Mexico has gone back into lockdown, and I haven’t been able to find cranberries, broccoli, carrots, or even the crispy onion things to put on top of green beans. So, as far as I’m concerned, we will be eating turkey Hot Pockets. But at least we will be safe.”

-Christina, New Mexico

Traveling The (Social) Distance

Having already gone to a Friendsgiving the weekend before, and with my family being in Florida, I originally planned to stay home solo in NYC this year. However, I decided somewhat last minute to take up the offer to spend Thanksgiving on the west coast with loved ones I haven’t seen in years. Thankfully my airline is still following social distancing protocol on flights, so I feel confident about the precautions in place. I figured that whether it’s a subway train or an airplane, everything is a risk these days, no matter how careful you are. May as well take the (calculated) risk to see friends and family you haven’t seen in far too long.

Soraya, New York City



In short, if you’re looking to social media for guidance on what to do this year, it can be tough, as many of us only post what we want people to see. However, that doesn’t always accurately represent what’s really going on. With that said, enjoy your holiday, your way (but make it safe, of course!) And if you need any more rules to follow, check out what the CDC has to say, as it pertains to official holiday guidelines.

Happy Turkey Day!

Gina Vaynshteyn is an editor and writer who lives in LA. You can find more of her words on Refinery29, Apartment Therapy, HelloGiggles, Distractify, and others. If you wanna, you can follow her on Instagram or Twitter.

Image via Unsplash

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