Thanksgiving 2020: Brought to you by COVID-19
10 ways COVID Thanksgiving will differ from the classic version
Thanksgiving 2020: Brought to you by COVID-19
It's a Thanksgiving like no other, and why not? After a St. Patrick's Day like no other, and an Easter like no other…
It’s a Thanksgiving like no other, and why not? After a St. Patrick’s Day like no other, and an Easter like no other, and a 4th of July like no other, and a Simchat Torah like no other, and a school year like no other, and a presidential election like no other, and a Halloween like no other, why should Thanksgiving be an exception to this depressing new normal? Thanksgiving, the most American of all holidays will be a much more subdued experience this year for most. The Thanksgiving of your youth, at least for this year, will be nothing more than a distant memory of crowded get togethers, jam-packed parades, and grotesque displays of greed on “Black Fridays,”
While I won’t declare this year’s Thanksgiving holiday ruined, the typical buzz that surrounds “Turkey Day,” is simply not present, and I can give you 19 reasons for this depressed version of my favorite holiday, and all of them are COVID related. It seems for now, at least until we are all immunized, that anything that includes formal gatherings, crowds, or any celebration that brings people together is sadly being put on hold. Nearly everything we do is affected by COVID, and as we like to say in our house, “COVID ruins everything.” Even watching television or a movie from the comfort of our home is fraught with angst as I observe gatherings of humans huddled about one another on my television just coughing and sneezing and expelling their life-threatening germs upon the teaming hoard of soon-to-be diseased homosapiens. It’s like they have a death wish or something. Don’t these fools understand? If you’re going to be around others, you’re most likely going to infect and kill them! Such is my frazzled psyche thanks to COVID-19.
You fools! You foolish fools! Why not just bring confetti made out of anthrax as long as you’re all trying to kill each other. Parades kill. (Getty Images)
Thanksgiving, a holiday that unites us as a nation has always possessed a small dose of Passover type philosophy in its makeup. There’s always a sense of “Why is this day different from any other?” regarding how we go about our day on this grandest of holidays. It’s a celebratory day where we eat certain kinds of food, and enjoy traditions that have been passed down by our families for generations. It is singular amongst the 365 days on the calendar, and it is unique to us as Americans. Canada has a Thanksgiving to be sure, but it’s on Columbus Day, and that’s just absurd. Thanksgiving is an American experience through and through, and it stands alone as a truly shared event for us to enjoy. It’s greatness can be found in the following:
- Eating: In 2016, The New England Journal of Medicine estimated that the average American’s weight increased 0.2 percent after Thanksgiving. It’s probably not the turkey, which is a fairly lean meat. It’s probably the mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, gravy, desserts, and of course appetizers. It’s a good day to bring out one’s fat pants, or as we as Americans have come to know them, our sweatpants. You know, the garment we now wear almost anywhere we go for any reason because apparently, that’s a thing now.
- Football: Football’s greatness can be described thusly: I like baseball, basketball, and hockey just fine. But I would have trouble sitting through a playoff game involving any of the preceding professional sports, even as great as hockey and basketball playoffs are, if my team that I root for wasn’t involved. (And they rarely are) However, I’ll watch “The Football Team from Washington,” who stink, vs. one of the crappiest Dallas Cowboys teams in recent history, and still have no problem staying riveted for the entire game. Thanksgiving now has three football games for us to enjoy. Are you telling me you don’t see divine inspiration in all of this?
- Four Day Weekend: Well for most anyway. My youngest son who now works for a local television station, and is officially designated as the “new guy,” has to work Thanksgiving and the day after. However for most of us, it’s a lovely and well-deserved four days off. As a teacher, it’s a nice break since statistically, suspensions actually go up between Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. I’m not sure why this is, but it must be a very agitating time of year for America’s youth.
- No Religious Observation: While it is a day to “give thanks,” (I mean, it’s in the title of the holiday), it’s still not a day with any particular religious designation. Our “Founding Fathers,” in all of their wisdom deigned this nation to be one that establishes no official religion, but at the same time, acknowledges a higher power. In other words, you can give thanks if you want to, just don’t bother me about it.
- No Gift Giving: Look, it’s not that I don’t like buying things for people, or at least watching my wife press the magical button that seems to cause things from the good people from Amazon to arrive on our doorstep seemingly every day, it’s just that, who needs that pressure? It’s expensive, and what are the odds you are actually going to get something for somebody that they really want, or more importantly need? Besides, you’ve got Christmas and Hanukkah for that. Can’t we have a day where I can just think about myself and what makes me happy? Is that so selfish?
Who are all of these chunky white men enjoying life in America under the benevolent leadership of President John F. Kennedy? They are the original purveyors of America’s Thanksgiving football tradition, the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers, battling it out in 1962. They would play one another for 13 consecutive years, from 1950 to 1963. Sadly, despite the best efforts of our nation’s greatest scientific minds, the Lions continue to be paid to play football on Thanksgiving. (New York Times)
Yes, there is so much to cherish and enjoy regarding the holiday of Thanksgiving, but this year’s version, like so much of what would have usually transpired in 2020, has been infected. The deadly virus that we have to contend with, despite our best efforts to pretend otherwise, is not going away. In fact it’s getting stronger and more difficult to contain. Yes, we do seem to be on the cusp of a vaccine, and that is glorious news to be sure, but widespread distribution of that vaccine most likely won’t occur until sometime after the new year begins. Until then, either by law, executive order, suggestion, common sense, or if you live in New York State, under edict by the Burgermesiter, a.k.a. Governor and Emmy nominee, Andrew Cuomo, we are being told to stay home, and keep away from our family and typical holiday haunts.
What does this mean? It means that this Thanksgiving, many of the familiar traditions that we enjoy, either as individuals, families, or collectively as a nation will be turned on their ear somewhat. How will this day in the words of the Passover Haggadah that my mother got from the Waldbaums in North Massapequa circa 1975, be different from any other….Thanksgiving? The only way to know is to compare the two. I offer upon a weary and infected world the following treatise:
Regular Thanksgiving vs. COVID Thanksgiving
- During regular Thanksgiving, we get together in our homes with family and/or friends. We sit on couches, or at the dinner table and pass food with our subjectively cleansed hands. Maybe there’s too many people so we eat buffet style, with our mouths hanging over the hot trays. We taste off of each other’s plates, and if our wives or young children can’t finish what they took, we lend a helping hand by shoveling it in our mouths. Hey, no need to worry, we’re all family.
- Regular Thanksgiving means travel for many. Sometimes by air, where we are packed into airplanes in the smallest seats with the least amount of legroom as possible, hopefully having the person in front of us recline their seat back, mid-cough if we’re really fortunate, and then all breathe in the same recycled air. A good old fashioned delay means extra time in these circumstances.
- During regular Thanksgiving, we visit our elderly relatives. “Hello Grandma! How is your compromised immunity treating you these days? How about a big hug?” Again, nothing to fear here, what kind of monster doesn’t hug their grandmother?
- During regular Thanksgiving, we sit back and enjoy the MACY’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. If we’re feeling ambitious, we may even go to the parade. It’s cool, we all stand really close to each other and watch as the stars of Hannah Montana, Blue’s Clues, and the cast of whatever Disney Broadway Play is being featured entertain us with that wonderful frozen smile upon their face which says: “I’d literally rather be anywhere else, and my God it’s cold out here.”
- During regular Thanksgiving weekend, a lot of people begin their Christmas shopping by actually getting up early and storming many of our fine shopping institutions such as Walmart for bargains while attempting to sort of not trample over their fellow shoppers. It may be crowded, but at least it’s crowded.
“Um, does anybody have a hand sanitizer?” (Getty Images)
- On COVID Thanksgiving, we are being instructed to keep our family get togethers to less than 10 people, otherwise we risk Andrew Cuomo kicking in our doors, cleverly disguised as Chris Cuomo. Must we suffer alone, or is there another way to seek out the comfort of our extended families? Of course there is. Thanks to the semi-benevolent nerds who run the world and our lives we can now hold virtual get togethers, known affectionately as “Zoom calls.” I will be Zooming this week with both of my brothers since I haven’t seen either one of them live since at least February. At least by seeing each other virtually, I, as the baby-brother don’t have to risk “Indian burns” or “purple nurples.”
- On COVID Thanksgiving, we don’t dare travel since we could be transporting thousands of tiny stowaways, known as COVID-19 germs. Interestingly, air travel is actually considered fairly safe since the filtration systems found aboard our fleet of commercial jets works well at removing airborne microorganisms. Still, you have to negotiate the airport and restaurants, and other petri dishes where we all gather together.
- On COVID Thanksgiving, Grandma and Grandpa have to be loved from a distance. The elderly have found themselves more isolated than ever thanks to COVID, but many are choosing to stay that way due to the threat of infection. Other elderly however feel that they’ve made it this far, and spending their last precious years alone is not worth it, and they’d rather take the risk. Of course, with all of those superspreaders known as college students coming home from school, maybe a little discretion, at least just for this year may be the wiser course.
- During COVID Thanksgiving, the MACY’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be virtual. What does that even mean? Does that mean I can film myself dressed up like Underdog, and march around my living room? Maybe I’ll lip sync to Man of La Mancha, or even ask my wife to lip sync to some Beyonce’ tune, cause you know, it’s Beyonce’.
- During COVID Thanksgiving, “Black Friday” is just more cyber-shopping, better known as “Cyber-Monday.” However, practically everyday of 2020 has been “Cyber-Monday,” so I don’t think we’ll even feel the difference. On the bright side, that awful trend that had retail workers having to go in and work on Thanksgiving was greed at its worst, so maybe we can consider this a rare positive side effect of COVID-19.
Emmy nominee, and Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, seen here during one of his Emmy Award nominated performances, better not get caught having Thanksgiving with his children or mother, lest some people think that politicians are hypocrites. (Getty Images)
Like so many of our great traditions, Thanksgiving is not immune from the havoc that is COVID-19. I love to think of all of the great traditions that I enjoyed regarding Thanksgiving when I was growing up in North Massapequa. Waking up and seeing my parents relaxed and having the day off, something my father rarely had. (His relaxation would swiftly come to an end if we had to go somewhere and he had to deal with the deadly Long Island/New York City area traffic). Watching classics such as King Kong, March of the Wooden Soldiers, or even the greatly underrated Son of Kong made the day feel special. Today, the oversized gorilla would have to wear a mask, the “wooden soldiers” would have to be socially distanced, and instead of people crowding into a Broadway theater to gaze upon Kong, the 8th Wonder of the World, they’d be home watching it virtually from the safety of their living rooms. Not quite the same experience.
Where do we go from here? Well, it looks like it will be a COVID Hanukkah and a COVID Christmas. Since both holidays celebrate miracles, perhaps we will be blessed with a modern miracle, a vaccine that lasts longer than originally hoped, like the oil in a Hanukkah menorah. Until then, make sure you leave hand sanitizer at the bottom of your fireplaces so Santa doesn’t become a superspreader. Honestly, considering his age, Santa will probably have to sit this one out and hand it to one of the younger elves since it’s hard to get a mask over that beard. Plus, he’s old, and overweight, which probably means he has type two diabetes as well as heart disease, both underlying conditions which can complicate a COVID infection. If you’re looking for a bright side in all of this though, I think I’ve found it. Since our relatives only see us from the chest up on these Zoom calls, you can really pig out on the holidays, and nobody will see the extra pounds, and besides, it’s not your fault. The gyms can only stay open until 10pm, what do they expect from us?