Zoom Turkeys? Families struggle with Thanksgiving plans

Every year, Thanksgiving is the most traveled time of the year.  Unfortunately, COVID-19 has crushed the expectation of big get-togethers and travel.  


Bailey Spore

Computers don’t overeat on Thanksgiving. That’s one positive in an otherwise frustrating time.

by Jordan Grab and Keifer Spore

How do families plan to “celebrate” Thanksgiving in 2020?  And what do we have to be thankful for?  More months of illness and political unrest. 

COVID-19 cases are spiking again across America.  Data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project shows that daily October averages are around 40,000 cases per day. This is the highest it has been since the end of August 2020.  If families resume normal Thanksgiving traditions, the number of cases will certainly multiply.  

If Thanksgiving sounds bad, think of all the people who will be ill by Christmas.

Large gatherings have been proven to be hot spots.  The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, a rally in which thousands of bikers come together, was one of these super spreader events.  According to the Washington Post, the rally could link to over 250,000 COVID-19 cases.

While the main subject of the matter is how to stay socially distant, another lurking danger is travel.  Traveling by car is arguably safe, but many people still have to make stops on a trip and could, potentially, be exposed to the virus.  

Planes are most definitely out of the question, considering how many people travel for Thanksgiving.  According to the Fortune Magazine, over 55 million people planned to travel for Thanksgiving in 2019.  That number will be a fraction a this year.

After eight months of lockdown, the temptation to gather families is very strong.  Not everyone agrees to stay apart.

“I feel if you take the necessary precautions it will be safe,” said LHS former parent Christine McFadden, a New Market resident.  “I will say that we may see a small uptick in cases,” she said.

“I would think in most cases that it would be safe for small gatherings.  Some adjustments might have to be made as far as serving food and seating arrangements.  One thing that COVID-19 has done is that people have become quite creative and maybe even come up with some improvements in how to handle events,” said Connie Ramsey, a Pennsylvania resident and grandmother of an LHS student.

These adjustments may include outdoor seating with propane heaters and tents.

Parents don’t want to risk exposure to grandparents and other people with compromised health.

“We usually have a large family gathering, but some out of state family won’t be coming this year,” said Class of 2020 graduate Jake Muller, who recently recovered from having COVID-19. Because of this, Muller’s family is being extra cautious with their Thanksgiving plans. 

Families are considering a variety of forms of celebration this year.  Lancer Media asked on Twitter asking how people planned to celebrate. Only 6% voted for “Big family gathering.”  A whopping 67% of people voted for “Immediate family only.”  

Another form of getting together is virtual.  While being able to see and communicate with family and friends over the screen is nice, it takes away the overall feeling of Thanksgiving–food does not smell as good by computer.  But, it is the closest thing to a get-together that we can achieve while being safe.

Being virtual is awkward in the classroom, and it most certainly feels awkward at intimate family gatherings.

“Our family will have Thanksgiving with extended family.  We go to their house to celebrate.  We go there every year,” says McFadden.  “I am not a fan of online visiting.  I would not mind FaceTime or Zoom for a short visit.  I find online very awkward for gatherings,” she said.

“We aren’t sure yet. Probably a small family dinner, which I will not be attending,” said Muller.

“We don’t have any specific plans for Thanksgiving.  I do have a feeling that a family member on my side will be having a small get-together.  If we do travel there, it would only be about 20 miles in auto time . . . not very far.  I don’t think we would do any public travel like a plane.” Says Ramsey.  “If we can’t be together, a virtual visit would be great!  We could see what everyone is eating and still share the fellowship,” she said.