With 2020, we have learned to throw all expectations out the window as we ponder, “What is next?” From a global pandemic to murder hornets, racial unrest and a divided country to an election that was not as cut and dried as some of us had wanted, this has been the year of all years. And, yet, birthdays and holidays such as Thanksgiving roll on, seemingly without care that we are not able to gather to celebrate their grandeur as in years past.
With birthday parades and Zoom calls replacing parties, and outdoor spaces replacing family dinner tables, what will Thanksgiving be like? Delayed are the days when extended families gather at one designated member’s home, bringing their special dishes they are known for, hugging and kissing each other like families do. But along with that comes a lot of baggage you do not have to unpack, i.e. traveling, cleaning, over-shopping. Let’s embrace the time we will have with our intimate tribes and enjoy the simplicity that Thanksgiving can deliver.
So, you have never actually cooked a turkey and you are assuming this is a disadvantage to your Thanksgiving meal plan. Relax. Take a deep breath. Grab a glass of wine and sit down with your good friend Google. You will be surprised at the staggering number of turkey recipes that are at your disposal. As it turns out, timely thawing is a main component of the turkey process. Beyond that, whether you brine, marinate, or season, that bird will be in the oven for hours without a nary of peeking from you. What I have learned over the years is no matter the preparation, turkey kind of always tastes the same.
The sides. There are no right or wrong answers here. If you have secretly hated sweet potatoes all these Thanksgiving years, switch it up with some nice twice-baked spuds or even a rice pilaf. Nobody will tell on you, because guess what, if your small family unit wants to call you out on this switch, they can always eat a sandwich. The same goes for green bean casserole, or stuffing. If you hate these, but love corn on the cob or mac and cheese, make what tastes good to you. And, alas, if you abhor mincemeat pie, and who does not, then scrap it from the menu altogether. This is the year to do you. Without a houseful of company to demand this dish or that pie, you can finally have the Thanksgiving you have always dreamed of.
The traditions. Don’t worry, some things never cease, even amid a pandemic. Enter Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Even though it won’t be the parade we have come to love all of these years, Macy’s is going to do a different version with 75% less crowds, local bands performing in lieu of bringing in schools from all over the country, and balloon handlers will be replaced with specialty vehicles. That all may sound a little foreign but how great is it that this tradition lives on. And, football will still be ongoing during Thanksgiving Day so all the sports buffs can eat and pass out on the couch afterwards while “watching” the game. Some things do not change. This year, make sure you get in on the naptime as well.
The people. So you won’t get to see all the family you normally do but with that comes less awkward political conversations, minimal driving, less cleaning like you are entertaining for the Royals, and the list goes on. And, maybe this is the year to bring out the board games, old family photos and videos and a collection of holiday movies for just your small familial unit, or whoever is with you on Thanksgiving. Thinking small does not mean you have to lose your Thanksgiving traditions at all. In fact, maybe this is the year we stop worrying about everything we don’t have and concentrate more on who is with us right now.
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