I have simultaneously yearned for the holidays and dreaded them in 2020. It seems like we can all use some cheer and uplifting thoughts the holidays often provide. But the world is still battling COVID-19 and the holidays fall right in the middle of flu season. It has put into question whether I should participate in big family gatherings putting maw maw at risk or meeting up with friends who have traveled from other COVID-19 hot zones to be home for the holidays. This is not the place to answer those questions, but I would like to give some positive suggestions for a Happy Thanksgiving during these crazy times.
Cook a Classic Family Recipe
Whether you are gathering with the whole clan or just your household you can still cook something wonderfully delicious. Think back to some of your favorite Thanksgiving dinners that you shared with loved ones. Do you have a treasure troth of recipes in grandma’s kitchen drawer or a well loved cookbook with notes jotted in the margins? If not, ask around to older family members to see if they have any recommendations. Take these suggestions and recreate a delicious pecan pie or oyster stuffing.
If your family does not have any Thanksgiving standbys, use this year as an opportunity to find some. Scour Pinterest and try out your own test kitchen. I also recommend any of these vintage cookbooks that I use as a starting point as well or check out some from the Dewey Decimal 641.5 section of your local library.
My current podcast with besties Leah and Katy delve into deep discussion on Thanksgiving food traditions in this week’s episode! Find it here!
Bring a Game the Whole Family Will Enjoy
In recent years, one of my many cousins on my dad’s side would have a game for us to play at Christmas. The game they had would be able to accommodate some of the younger members of our family to our oldest. I would think of these games with slight annoyance, but now I would love to spend this kind of time with my family without worrying about current events. Make this Thanksgiving to make some new memories with a fun new game for the whole family. The smartphone games like cahoot are fun, but keep in mind Great Uncle Bob may not be able to work his iPhone.
Here is a list of possible games.
Conduct Interviews of Older Relatives
If you are fortunate enough to safely visit your elderly relatives I recommend using this as an opportunity to conduct video or voice recorded interviews with them. 2020 has taught how quickly things can change, and there is no guarantee these family legends will be around next holiday season. You have all you need to interview them in your back pocket! No special equipment needed other than a smartphone with enough space to record the interview. Using voice memo is another great way to save these stories that does not take up as much device space.
There are easy ways to get decent light and sound in your interview. Place them in front of a window that has a lot of natural light. Also make sure to minimize background noises like television and radio sound. Create a list of questions before-hand so they are less likely to go off on tangents. Always begin with the basics including their name, birthday, place of birth, and other important biographical information.
If you have relatives in care facilities not allowing visitors see if a staff member can conduct the interview. Another option we did years ago with one of my great-grandmothers was to give them a journal of questions and have them write their answers in the book. Then the journal can be scanned and printed for other relatives.
Here are some questions for family interviews.
Find a Cute Way to Record and Display Gratitude
Some years during our Friendsgiving feasts, we would go around the table and say what we were most thankful for. It was nice to reflect on the year and more recently I record monthly gratitude in my planner. I now wish I had used Thanksgiving to practice gratitude since a young age. Now there are so many cute ways for the whole family to record gratitude. The Turkey on the Table is one example of a way to bring gratitude practice into your home. I loved hearing about its development on the podcast Say It Southern when they interviewed founder April George.
If you are crafty, there are plenty of other options that can be created by raiding art supplies you probably already have at home.
I got my Fujifilm InstaPix a few years ago, and I am still obsessed. It is such a fun way to record the moment and have something tangible in hand. I have made a point to use the modern-day polaroid at kid’s parties, Christmas gatherings, and even one slumber party flashback birthday. The cartridges are a little pricey, but more reasonable if purchased in multi-packs. I also love the border options of different colors and patterns.
If you already have one of these, bring it along to Thanksgiving and take your own Kodak moments. Another option is a portable photo printer that will print directly from your smartphone.
If You Have to Social Distance—Go Online!
Even if the idea of being socially distant from family is sad, find a silver lining in the availability of technology to us these days. There are so many virtual meeting options now that are totally free! I have managed to be a part of an Instagram video call with 6 different teachers. Facebook messenger also has a similar service. Skype can be used for free if you are on FaceTime with one other person. Of course, Zoom has a free version that allows about 30 minutes for free. Best of all, Zoom conferences can be recorded for both video and audio! (Another way to complete a family interview.)
Screen sharing and marking features on Zoom can allow for a family picture slideshow or even a round of virtual Pictionary. Don’t forget Netflix watch parties if you want to enjoy your favorite Christmas movie early with the entire family.
Enjoy the Leftovers After All the Fun
One tradition my family had that I now do with my husband’s parents is enjoying a second meal of leftovers. We do this the night of Thanksgiving since we usually eat the ‘big’ meal for lunch and have all day to get hungry again. It was always just as fun for me to enjoy the leftovers and some I find more enjoyable the second time around. (Turkey and cranberry sandwiches, yes please!) Take some of these ideas and think of ways to make this Thanksgiving one to remember for a different reason other than the one we had the pandemic.
What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?
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