Illustration by Hawnuh Lee.
Thanksgiving is a weird holiday for me. I don’t have a lot of memories of it growing up. And I have spent the last 10 holidays with other people’s families who were nice enough to include me or have spent it with other folks who also didn’t have anywhere to go. But because my family didn’t have any special Thanksgiving traditions, I never felt like I missed out on anything by not being home. It was just a nice day where instead of going to work or school, I got to eat myself nauseous in the company of other folks doing the same thing.
Growing up, I don’t think my family really understood Thanksgiving. But instead of creating our own holiday traditions like other cuter ethnic and immigrant families, we just tried to do the white thing. And I’m sorry y’all but Thanksgiving food is at best okay when you compare it to the fact that I get sushi at Christmas.
That said, I do enjoy learning about the things that people do with their families around the holidays. One of my co-workers, who comes from a concerningly fertile family line, has a ton of little niblings and they all play card games together. A family friend plays a telephone-esque version of Pictionary where you draw a scene and someone writes a description of your drawing. You fold the papers to hide the drawing and the next person draws the written description and you go on and on until you run out of paper. And my roommate always brings a special pumpkin crisp to her celebrations because that’s the dessert her mom and grandma would make for Thanksgiving.
It was just a nice day where instead of going to work or school, I got to eat myself nauseous in the company of other folks doing the same thing.
What I’m trying to say is, I don’t have an issue doing this holiday solo but I really feel for the folks who love celebrating and who won’t be able to do it in the way they love. I feel for the folks who have families getting together but they’re unsure whether or not it’s safe and responsible for them to join. My roommates are unfortunately in that boat. They’re concerned about having an extended family get-together because of Covid, but how many times can you tell your mom, no, you don’t feel comfortable coming over because the aunts aren’t taking the pandemic seriously. I feel awful that they have to make these judgement calls that have no right answer and I feel guilty as hell for making these decisions harder on them because I happen to be immunocompromised and who wants to be responsible for giving their fragile lil’ roomie a potentially fatal virus.
To provide some guidance in a trying time, the CDC put out holiday considerations. It feels like the CDC was trying to say, “please, we beg of you, please, just don’t gather” without saying it outright. Among other things, various households need to be six feet apart, increase ventilation or stay outside, quarantine for two weeks before gathering, don’t pet dogs outside your household, use single-use items and ideally bring your own food, and avoid singing.
I can only give you a small reminder that we’re all here struggling together. My hope for all of us this holiday is patience and grace.
We’re in a tough spot because gathering is a very important thing for people to do; we’re social creatures and we need to socialize. But how do you do that when gathering is the very thing that’s actively contributing to the spread of the virus? And how do you communicate these concerns to the people you love who aren’t taking this pandemic seriously?
I don’t have any of these answers and I also know that each of us has a very different take on each of these questions. It’s up to us to create and maintain boundaries for ourselves. I’m not sure what your plans are for the holidays or how you’re balancing your physical safety and your emotional health, but I hope you’re being as kind to yourself and your loved ones as you can be right now. Things are hard; they’ve been hard for what feels like a lifetime; and they will continue to be hard for who knows how long. I can only give you a small reminder that we’re all here struggling together. My hope for all of us this holiday is patience and grace.
As for me, this year, I’m going to try to opt out of the holiday as much as possible. Since my roomies will probably celebrate with their family, we’re doing an early famsgiving as a house. But on actual Thanksgiving, I’m going to treat it as much like a weekend as possible. I think it will be harder emotionally to try to make a mini Thanksgiving for me and the pup feel meaningful. I’m going to go on a walk, dance my brains out because no one’s home and then make and devour as many pumpkin-flavored things as I can before I run out of pumpkin.
How are you adapting your holiday traditions this year? And if you’d rather not think about the holidays just yet, what rituals have you created to treat your body like the precious resource it is? ●