A few years ago, my husband’s aunt asked me if I would receive the baton to host the family’s Thanksgiving lunch. Y’all, that’s a big deal! I was both excited and nervous. I married into the family. I am blessed to have been loved by a man whose family had a great tradition of big Thanksgiving meals. These people have loved me since we started dating at 16, welcomed me in at 23 when we married, and have been uber supportive of our crazy crew of 5 boys since we started our family in ’05. I wasn’t going to let their turkey dreams down!… But this year, we have Covid to think about, and this adds a whole other layer.
The Matriarch of the family is 98. Yes, 98. I want to be Gigi when I grow up. She still does line dancing, card nights, and goes to mass every week. In addition, in-laws and aunts and uncles are in their 60’s and in the higher risk group. This year, as we decide how to do Thanksgiving, it’s them I am keeping in mind.
So, what’s our plan? Instead of canceling our gathering all together, we are trying to put best practices in place so that we can still safely celebrate. I LOVE pulling this meal and our family together. We rent tables and chairs, I iron napkins, we eat on real plates…not because it’s expected, but because I love to use this as an opportunity to love on our family. I may have to change up some things, but I am really excited to put the same touches on our Thanksgiving tradition.
Our first switch is to move the meal outdoors. Praying for good weather! Luckily we have a large backyard, so hopefully, we can create a pretty space. Our house will be open to the restroom, but it will be an outdoor event.
I normally do assigned seats for our 26 guests. I mingle families and kids in order to give people a chance to connect. This year, we will be doing family tables. Each family will have their own space to eat together.
I don’t have a large kitchen, so our smorgasbord is typically a big game of Tetris across my counter while we file through serving ourselves. This year, my husband and I will attend the food table. We’ll wear gloves and plate the food for each person. I actually kind of love this change as it will be an opportunity to see what everyone’s favorites are!
Dear God, let the weather be pretty! There are 9 kids in our family, and we are going to try and do our best to keep them distanced. We see my nephews but haven’t seen our cousin’s kids, so we plan to have things set up for them to have fun while 6 feet apart. Cornhole, HORSE, and Kan Jam will be out for some friendly competition.
This one is going to be so hard. I’m a hugger, and my kids are used to hugging all their people. However, we are going to forgo formal greetings. We will be giving out big air hugs and high fives from afar for our extended family, but Oh, how I miss hugs.
So, that’s where we are. I understand all families are in different places regarding this holiday and will be making choices that best fit them. This is what fits us. We have a family choosing not to come this year, and we totally understand and will miss them greatly. Things are different this year, but I am setting out my best intentions to make sure our family sits at a table, eats near people they love, and leaves with bellies that are full and hearts that are…thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!