Thanksgiving means something different to everyone with unique traditions and ways of celebrating. For many, Thanksgiving means a large gathering of family, friends and loved ones, with favorite foods to share and most importantly, the opportunity to be together. Thanksgiving will look and feel different to most of us this year, but the parts that help us experience gratitude, and make us feel connected, can be maintained.
As this difficult year comes to a close, what can you celebrate? How can you acknowledge the bounty in your own life, even though this year continues to be challenging? As you explore gratitude, perhaps you will feel inspired to help someone in some way. Or if you’ve needed extra support from others this year, take the time to express thanks and look forward to when you might be in a position to pay kindnesses forward.
While we may all be grasping for any tiny strand of normalcy lately, we’ve come up with some ways to make your Thanksgiving holiday feel memorable and special. Whether you’re spending the day solo or with those in your household, you can still make safety a priority.
1. Cook a treasured family recipe. Prepare the same recipes as extended family in other locations and share the meal via video chat or phone. This can be a great way to continue with some traditional family recipes even though you may not physically be sharing the meal together. (Also, maybe a good opportunity to sneakily get Grandma’s secret pumpkin pie recipe that she never gives out?)
2. Try a new recipe or meal from another culture. Instead of keeping up with your typical Thanksgiving menu, try honoring and exploring a new culture by choosing items from their festive cuisine. It’s like a trip around the world without leaving home.
3. Drop a note or card to neighbors and friends for Thanksgiving, whether it’s in their mailbox or on their front steps. Everyone could use a healthy dose of support and kindness right now.
4. Thanksgiving dinner for one? Not a fan of cooking? Treat yourself! Many local restaurants are offering takeout meals for Thanksgiving, or even a Thanksgiving meal for one.
5. Create a gratitude jar. For the week leading up to Thanksgiving, write down one or two things on a slip of paper that you’re feeling grateful for. Identifying a few of the things we are grateful for can boost our mood instantly. On the day of Thanksgiving, open the jar and review the blessings you listed. Share these with friends and/or family and ask them what they are grateful and hopeful for.
6. Organize your own Turkey Trot with members of your household. On the morning of Thanksgiving, everyone can power-walk, run, jog, or bike at a local park or trail. Set your own distance! Dress up and gobble on down the path!
7. If you are able, donate to those in need. Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline feed thousands of people across Western Washington every day. You could also participate in Valley’s Thank a Caregiver program. For individuals who are in need right now, check out Washington 2-1-1.
Planning a safe Thanksgiving. Here in Washington state, new orders from the governor on November 15, 2020 to combat the spread of COVID-19 are for all restaurants to cease service indoors, however many will be open and available for takeout. Indoor gatherings are to be limited to those within your immediate household only, unless visitors have quarantined for 7 days prior and have received a negative test for COVID-19 (or 14-day quarantine without undergoing a test).
The restrictions over the last eight months have been a long journey, and having to limit Thanksgiving plans is disappointing. Let’s focus this year on maintaining physical distance because we care about each other and want to contribute to each other’s long-term health and safety. Remind your loved ones that even if you cannot get together in person this year, the distance does not mean that the love shared is any less. Happy Thanksgiving to you all from Valley Medical Center.