As a self-described Holiday Person, the idea of missing out on a big family gathering this year is nothing short of heartbreaking. Many tears have been shed as we, like many other families, have decided not to meet up for Thanksgiving this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. And although forgoing all the pomp and circumstance of a big family gathering can be painful, this is a good a chance as any for you to totally make the holiday your own...whether that means celebrating in a "traditional" way with turkey and stuffing or by simply eating cake right out of the pan in your PJs.
If the thought of making a turkey this year stresses you out, I have a really exciting proposition for you...don't do it. Seriously! Just say screw it. Make a different protein of your choice. Make hamburgers, make pasta!! Turkey is the weak link of Thanksgiving dinner, and we all know it! Instead, think about making all of your favorite sides...or don't make any sides at all. For possibly the first time in your life, Thanksgiving is all up to you, baby, and there is no one to disappoint but yourself.
Maybe you love your traditions—I do too! I am still planning on making my aunt's broccoli salad (my favorite side!), and yeah, my fiancé has insisted on making a turkey, but we're also making it our own too. We'll likely be wearing sweatpants, I'm making mac & cheese (which I've never eaten on Thanksgiving before..don't yell at me), and we're going to play every Thanksgiving episode of TV we can find. Oh, and we're planning on sipping on apple cider mimosas all day long and no one will be around to start yelling about politics when we get a little tipsy.
This is also a great time to suss out which traditions you actually love and which ones you really don't. Maybe you'll go without a turkey and miss having all that leftover meat for soup the next day. Maybe you'll randomly miss those boiled carrots you always swore you hated, I dunno! But maybe you'll also find that you never actually liked pumpkin pie anyway or that you actually don't need to dress to the nines for it to feel like a holiday. This is a time to experiment, people! And that can be fun! Bring along the traditions that make you feel good and leave the rest behind.
And as heartbreaking as it is to not be able to see a great many of your family, friends, and loved ones IRL this year (seriously, I am almost the most upset about missing out on the sloppy Wednesday before Thanksgiving...), virtual holidays are also a good chance to bring everyone along for the ride. FaceTime with your BFF who is usually too busy hopping around to various family gatherings to say hey, Zoom with family near and far who usually you don't get to see, and when it's all over, you can still hop on a separate call with your favorite cousins and talk crap about the rest of your relatives. Ah, family. And if you'd rather take the day to recharge your batteries, buy a frozen pizza, pop on some Netflix, and put your phone on Do Not Disturb, do it!!!
Look, I would never want to make light of the frustrating, scary, and frankly sad situation we're all in. I am not the first person to point out that 2020 sucks, am I??? Making the choice not to see some of the people we love most, even if it's the right one, feels wrong. But if you're making the choice to stay home and celebrate, no what matter that looks like, just know that you're making the right choice for you and honestly, for the rest of us too. Hopefully this year will be the pajama-clad, movie-watching, holiday of your dreams. But if it's not, all the more reason to make next year the best Thanksgiving ever.