Pandemic Puts A New Twist On Thanksgiving

Anita Campbell
County Reporter
Thanksgiving is usually a time when families gather together to visit and eat a huge meal; however, this year with COVID-19 cases on the rise many celebrations may look much different.
Warsaw resident Maureen Lane said that she had thought about just staying at home alone since both of her daughters were out of town.  “My dear church friends Cynthia and Dave Bolinger invited me to their home for dinner on Thursday and I accepted,” said Lane. “It will be a small gathering and we will be following safety measures.”
Heather Montez said that her family usually celebrates with her husband’s aunt and the extended family.  “We usually have close to 100 people at our Thanksgiving celebration; however this year his aunt cancelled the Thanksgiving dinner due to COVID-19.”
“We will have a small gathering at my in-law’s house in Otterville with just the immediate family,” Montez said.
Montez said that their dinner would consist of turkey, mashed potatoes, lots of sides and every kind of pie.
“It is important to me to see our family,” said Montez.  “We intend to be safe but we are not going to miss out on spending time with our family.  Every person has to make decisions about how to live.”
South School instructor Kristy Henderson said that her family will be celebrating in Sedalia with her mother and family.
“We will be wearing masks and eating in the garage with doors wide open at my mom’s house. Also when preparing food we will be wearing gloves and face masks and making individual serving containers. On Thad’s side, almost all the family has already had it, so that celebration will be about the same. Some members will not join us of course,” said Henderson.
Dusty Mills said that her family will have a small gathering.  “Our holidays have always been small and intimate so we are blessed that our Thanksgiving won’t be different this year. My family is all in the city so we see each other at different times of the year instead of on the holidays,” said Mills.
“After an abnormal year I’m grateful that what has always been our holiday norm will still feel normal.  After this past year there will, however, be new things for which to praise God,” concluded Mills.
Melissa Tolliver who has a large extended family said that this year each family will be celebrating at their individual homes instead of all coming together.
“It will be a challenge to cook for two instead of 25,” said Tolliver.
Linda Nelson said that they would be hosting just their son, daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren.
“In the past we also had my siblings and spouses along with one or two if their children. Our son-in-law is an administrator in an adjoining county health department, so we have great respect for all the health care workers have done. We want to do our part to protect those of us who fall into the higher risk category for whatever reason. It will be different this year but so many things to be grateful for in spite of the pandemic,” said Nelson.
Stacey McGann said her family will be celebrating on a much smaller scale this year as well.  
“We will be going to our daughter’s house so it will just be our immediate family,” said McGann.   “We will miss the extended side and all the chaos the children cause when they get together.  We have several nieces and nephews so this year it will be much quieter. We are ready for life to return to normal!”
Warsaw High School teacher Kimberly Pate said her family will have a small Thanksgiving gathering. 
“Thanksgiving is not going to be normal for us this year.  We are not having a big gathering with all the holiday dishes like normal.  We won’t be able to pick up my mother-in-law from the care facility because they are on lock down, so she will be without family over the holiday,” said Pate.  “I haven’t gone to see my daughter since before COVID started, so we are traveling to Colorado to see her.  It will be a quiet holiday with just the three of us.”
Melissa Slavens said that her family will also have a small gathering at Thanksgiving.
“The celebration of Thanksgiving will be different this year,” said Slavens.  “I have no doubt it will be a day of FaceTiming with our loved ones as the five of us will remain home,” said Slavens.  “Our family will try to continue to stay healthy for the hopes that we can met and hold our new first great niece Layla who was born on November 23 around Christmas time.”
“This year has and continues to be a challenge for all of us, emotionally and physically,” said Slavens.
Edwards resident Tracey Spry said their family will be celebrating Thanksgiving at her house. 
“I am hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year for my family that lives nearby and we have been around throughout the pandemic.  It will still be a large gathering by most standards (about 20 people).  For a Spry Thanksgiving it is much smaller than usual,” said Spry.
Not everyone will be eating turkey on Thanksgiving Day.  April Watkins Heiser will be working in the ICU at Golden Valley Medical Hospital on Thanksgiving night.
“I’ll spend most of my night in protective gear so my family will be waiting to have our celebration on Sunday,” said Heiser. “It will be just the immediate family. In years past, mom has often invited someone who might be alone or one of the kids might bring a friend. This year, that wouldn’t be a good idea for them or us.   We’ll take food to some neighbors that are in need, but it will be done ‘curbside’!”
As COVID-19 cases are spiking around the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued specific guidelines for celebrating Thanksgiving on November 26. 
Dr. Henry Walke, CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager, told financial cable news network CNBC that the holiday is an important time to be cautious. 
“(There is) no more important time than now for each and every American to redouble our efforts to watch our distance, wash our hands, and most importantly, wear a mask,” he said. 
Additionally, the CDC recommends celebrating only with people who live in the same house. Whether people are hosts or guests, the CDC urges limiting their numbers, holding gatherings outdoors, thorough cleaning and disinfecting, and having guests bring their own food and beverages. It advises against potluck-style dinners. 
If the gathering cannot be held outdoors, the CDC suggests maintaining air circulation by opening windows or using fans. 
It also recommends not letting guests enter areas where food or drinks are being prepared. 
The CDC urges using “single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates and utensils.” 
Thanksgiving is usually one of the busiest travel periods in the country, though the CDC is advising against it this year. 
“For Americans who decide to travel, CDC recommends doing so as safely as possible by following the same recommendations for everyday living,” Walke said. 
The first recommendation is to get a flu shot. The second is to find out if any potential travel restrictions could impact the trip. 
The CDC also urges people who are considering travel to weigh their susceptibility and risk factors — whether they would be traveling to or from an area with increasing case numbers, and whether area hospitals are stressed from cases.