Emilie Conlon, Editor-in-Chief
We’re about a week away from Thanksgiving, which officially kicks off the most wonderful time of year, and I just found out that my family has decided to forgo our usual large gathering that brings together our huge extended family and friends due to COVID-19.
While deep down, I know this choice was the best for the safety of our entire family, I couldn’t help but shed a few tears and feel absolutely crushed.
This year has already taken so much from us, and I found myself upset that it went and snatched another thing right from underneath us, especially something that I look forward to so much each year.
You see, for me personally, this holiday season was already going to be extremely difficult and unlike any other. I lost my grandfather to complications of bladder cancer back in August, it was the first time I’d lost a grandparent, and the holidays were his time to shine. He was a man of few words, but you could see the joy in his face when he would see all of us together and was able to help provide a meal and happy gathering place for his entire family.
His absence was already going to ring loudly throughout my family’s celebrations this year and now it feels like it will be deafening, as our family is still very much grieving his death and trying to find our footing without him.
When I got the call about our Thanksgiving dinner being cancelled and was told that Christmas celebrations were on the fence, I was surprised to find myself angry. I was angry and I wanted someone to blame, and that felt like the worst part, because there is no one to blame—we’re all just trying our best to keep each other safe and do what’s right.
But that’s a hard thing to do when your emotions tell you the right thing to do is to be with your grieving grandmother and to pull your family close to weather through the holiday season without your glue, without your beloved grandpa, dad, husband.
As I processed my emotions, I realized that I can’t be the only person who is feeling this way, and for this reason. There are others who have lost loved ones this year, maybe even to COVID-19, and are looking for ways to connect with family and honor their loved one this holiday season.
I definitely don’t have all the answers, as I’m still trying to figure out how to do just that myself, but I have been doing some brainstorming on how with just those in your immediate family, or those you live with we can still make the holidays special this year.
My first thought was to switch things up a bit, while this year has been tumultuous to say the least, we may feel like clinging to what’s familiar and our traditions more than usual this year, but if I’ve learned anything recently, it’s to go with the flow and sometimes to soar you need to step out of your comfort zone.
With that said, it sounds simple, but try serving something different than the usual turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes fixings and step out of the box. Now could be a good time to try a new recipe you’ve had on the back burner for a while, the anticipation of a new dish might make the more lowkey Thanksgiving dinners feel a little special.
This year would also be a good time to make a new tradition. Try playing a new board game, different (politics neutral) talking points that you might not even think to have touched on with your immediate family before, have a movie marathon—really just something that helps make that day feel a little different from every other day we’ve spent staying at home with the same people since March.
Try finding restaurants or organizations that do Thanksgiving or Harvest meals. Many of local restaurants and churches offer fall themed dinners on or around Thanksgiving, and this year many of them are drive-thru. It gives you the chance to get out of the house and eat some different food than normal. Heck, we get dressed up on holidays to go to our living room to celebrate, this year get dressed up and go to the car and have your home made drive thru dinner.
Nothing is normal this year and I think a lot of us feel like so much has been absent from our lives this year, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make the most of what is present.
If you and your family are navigating this holiday season without a loved one that was present last year, I’m sorry. I know how you feel, and my heart goes out to you.
We’ll get through this.