By Amy Stephenson

COVID-19 means that Thanksgiving this year will probably look different. With indoor gathering restrictions now capped at 10, there could be fewer friends and relatives sitting around your dining table. Unless you eat outdoors, of course. Then you can have 25. No matter how many people you have, there will still be lots to look forward to. Old traditions may change but that might be OK.

There are some traditions I won’t miss. No more endless dirty dishes, Jell-O salads or awkward questions. I love talking with my family but can skip the panel interview on my life plans, relationship prospects, and career trajectory. That was always followed by unsolicited advice on all topics. They asked because they cared and I did appreciate most of their insights. I also have a great time roasting my cousins with the same questions.   

This might be the year to start some new traditions. Trying my hand at a Tofurky feels more doable without 13 family members auditioning to be judges on Master Chef.  I broke out the stretchy pants months ago so I may fuss about wearing any without an elastic waist.

Don’t get me wrong; I am going to miss playing cards with my cousins, going for walks with the whole family and listening to my uncle with his great review of the weather for the entire year and predictions for what’s to come. I was also looking forward to boasting about my successful pandemic bread making. But such opportunities can still happen in more creative ways.

Hosting a Zoom dinner may work for some. You could also try putting pictures of everyone at the table like the cutouts at sports stadiums. I think I am going to opt for a more old-school approach. It’s been ages since I sent an actual letter as in snail mail but that could be an excuse in itself. Writing a letter to family members explaining why I am thankful for them could let us share a smile. For those not a fan of writing, a traditional phone call can be great. Hearing a smile on the phone is one of my favourite things.

If your data limits allow, you could try a techy Zoom walk to appreciate the leaves. You can also run a picture scavenger hunt where different family bubbles can go searching for a set of fall items to pose with.

It’s easy to see what’s missing this year but there is still so much to be thankful for. Disconnection has been a theme of 2020, meaning putting in the effort to connect has never been so important. With this year’s holiday, I hope we can all find connections in our community with those who matter most.