My own decision – if there was a decision – was made less complicated by the fact that I work in Italy. So I'm 3,000 miles away from everyone I normally see on Thanksgiving. My children are definitely not going to come.
Some families have complex problems to solve with students who, in some cases, are sent home from colleges closing their dormitories. A recent article suggested strategies to reduce the risk of them bringing coronavirus with them, including reducing their possible exposure in the days before they return home and during their trip, testing before they leave, isolation, and carrying Masks when they come home Of course sometimes, if there is an alternative, to skip the journey home.
However, this difficult family logistics is not the same as the longing for the family's turkey meal for reasons of tradition. I don't mean that I don't long for my kids, my in-laws, or the good friends who usually come. But I don't long to have all the people I love gathered around my table. Imagining this cheerful table with a few people huddled together on the piano bench at one end and a few too many pretending to have enough room to eat on the card table that is jammed at the other end. I think this is the year that doesn't look happy and healthy and safe.
To do things differently this year, to mark a strange and terrible year, here are some things I am grateful for. Some you know: dedicated frontline workers, staunch parents who get their children through everywhere, smart epidemiology, vaccine research, the different kinds of privileges and protections that keep many people I love comparatively safe, selflessness and mission who have favourited many people I love put in a situation at some risk.
I'm grateful for deadlines and pressures that get me into writing as I didn't turn out to be one of those people who just felt motivated to get really creative at home by the pandemic. At the same time, I'm grateful for the guilt, especially the guilt that comes with overdue deadlines, because that really gets me out of bed in the morning, even when the news is bad.
I am grateful for the knitting that helped me with my zoom fatigue and for novels (especially to Anthony Trollope who wrote so many of them and Persephone books for republishing so many authors that I have before haven't met yet) that take me to other worlds and other scenes more effectively than anything else (and then feel guilty about reading novels when I have overdue deadlines).
Most of all, though, I think I'm grateful for all the past Thanksgiving celebrations and for the prospect of a better Thanksgiving festival in a better year – and I hope that will be in 2021. I'm not going to ask people to go around the table and say what they're thankful for, but honestly there won't be a need. When we get to this table we will know.