The annual crop of hulking 40-pound mega-turkeys is getting a reprieve this year, with smaller turkeys in higher demand. But the rest of us are out of luck – even my father who, while he professes not to like Thanksgiving, likes loneliness even less. It’s not easy to turn down invitations, in the interest of our relatives’ health. I keep thinking about a Hill staffer I met last week standing in line for a COVID-19 test. She’d spent what felt like hours on the phone with her somewhat senile grandmother in recent days, patiently explaining that, yes, she missed her and, yes, she wished she could visit for Thanksgiving – but that the family had decided not to gather for a reason, that the risk was too great, and that it simply wouldn’t be safe. (I happen to have eavesdropped on rich with those wafting Thanksgiving smells: clove, cinnamon, whatever “mince” is... Except, of course, not this year. Headcounts are coming up short, and family traditions that have run uninterrupted for generations are on hiatus – out of concern for the health of our more vulnerable loved ones, and, for the more civic-minded, in keeping with the kibosh on interstate travel. Grateful for our health, and thinking of those we’ve lost, Americans are following the CDC’s guidance and staying home – or else they’re already several days into a pre-travel quarantine.
a portion of one such call shortly before we met... It was heartbreaking.) We all know the statistics... the 10 million cases and counting, the national death toll approaching a quarter of a million Americans. And we know intuitively, if not from firsthand experience, that for every COVID-19 death there are countless more lonely men and women aching to reunite with family and friends they can’t safely see yet. Plus, COVID-19 makes the customary extended big-group gathering not just an unconscionable health hazard, but also a punishable crime for those who’d customarily make an interstate trek. (Not very many, but some travelers have been fined for breaking quarantine rules.) The annual crop of hulking 40-pound mega-turkeys is getting a reprieve this year, with smaller turkeys in higher demand. But the rest of us are out of luck – even my father who, while he professes not to like Thanksgiving, likes loneliness even less. In the spirit of silver linings, however, spending the holiday at home – and joining the extended family over Zoom – doesn’t have to be so bad. In fact, it has its own improbable upsides we may not all have taken the time to consider. For one thing, gathering your family via livestream on Thanksgiving means you can eat whatever you want – and not eat whatever you don’t want. It means you don’t have to wear a belt. It means you can mute the audio on the entire clan, if you so choose, at the moment that the subject of the presidential election arises.
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