20 November 2020
Thanksgiving 2020 is going to feel very different, regardless of what our plans may look like. Even if we can safely see a few family members or friends, others will still be too far away or too at risk. The novelty of Zoom celebrations has just about worn off and the last of the leaves remind us that we are headed into the coldest and darkest season of the year. While news of forthcoming COVID vaccines sparks hope, it seems that things are likely to get worse before they get better. As Dr. Fauci says, “Help is on the way, but it isn’t here yet.”
And so here we are, facing yet another moment in which we are experiencing a form of loss. I wouldn’t presume to know how best to navigate this feeling, but I think it starts by acknowledging that this is tough. This has been a hard year and holidays seem to remind us of what we are missing. How do we celebrate in a moment such as this?
Rather than a time for stress and hustle and bustle, holidays are meant to offer us the chance to slow down and be the best version of ourselves in the company of loved ones. And while we may not be able to gather everyone we would like right now, we still have the opportunity to be present, mark time, and celebrate Thanksgiving 2020 in a meaningful way.
I’ll admit I am currently wondering what would happen if my family and I forgo the Thursday meal altogether and opt for a hangout in the backyard or a walk in the park with my dad instead. I would miss gathering inside as a family with all of our traditional dishes, but at least we would be able to spend the day together.
Priya Parker, gathering guru and author of The Art of Gathering, might agree with this choice. Priya explains that the most memorable gatherings—no matter how small—are those with a specific purpose, one that reflects the needs and personalities of the host and their guests. Thanksgiving rituals can bring comfort and a sense of place. But maybe this year is about leaning into the situation in which we find ourselves—and creating something meaningful even if it involves a radical departure from our usual traditions. Indeed, one thing that I have learned over the past many months is that it is easier, and frequently much more enjoyable, to try something completely different. Maybe this is the year we take the menu in a wild new direction or simply spend the day on the phone or Zoom catching up with our favorite cousins.
No matter what form your Thanksgiving takes, I hope you feel good about the community of which you are a part. In the face of a crisis, a record number of people came together to provide relief for those in need. I am so grateful for you and your efforts.
I hope you will join me on December 4th at noon for a community-wide webinar to hear more about where things stand, all that we have done together, and the road ahead. I will be speaking with Heather Moran, CEO & Executive Director of Sixth & I, and look forward to answering your questions on how Federation and our community continue to address critical issues, and plan to embrace the opportunities and challenges in front of us. Register here.
I also want to thank the entire Federation staff, as well as our Board of Directors and volunteer leaders, for going above and beyond this year. Though we continue to face an uphill climb, our community has proven that we can rise to the occasion no matter the circumstance. I know that, together, we will make it through this trying stretch and lift each other up in time for better days ahead.
Shabbat Shalom and wishing you a happy, safe, and meaningful Thanksgiving,