Remember the Thanksgivings of yesteryear, when kids sat at their own table, cousins fought over the wishbone and at least three relatives passed out on the couch after dessert?
The holiday looks a bit different this year, with the covid-19 pandemic restricting gathering sizes, travel and more. Many local families are following guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recommends we postpone travel plans, hunker down at home and celebrate solely with members of our own households.
For New Britain business owner Hector Rivera that means six people, including his wife and their children.
“We won’t be doing the big Thanksgiving dinner we do every year,” said Rivera, owner of KoLab Tattoos on W. Main St. “Just taking the day to reflect and relax a little bit.”
As a business owner he plans on starting specials as soon as Black Friday rolls around.
“The scare of coronavirus seems to be slowing people down when it comes to getting tattoos,” Rivera said. “I’ve had a few cancellations due to positive cases.”
State officials have asked people to limit celebrations to 10 people or less, with guests asked to wear face coverings and remain at a distance of six feet or more from others.
For some folks, Thursday’s Thanksgiving spread will be fit for two people and two people only.
“Everyone thinks we’re crazy for not having a big gathering but I say don’t do it,” Bristol resident Gina Murphy said.
She and her husband have opted to share the holiday as a couple, instead of getting together with their son and daughter-in-law, along with siblings, nieces and nephews.
“It’s a little depressing,” Murphy said, “but we just don’t want to take the chance.”
Thanksgiving for this couple will consist of turkey breast, stuffing and decorating their home for Christmas. Ages 67 and 61, they are more vulnerable to severe illness if exposed to the coronavirus.
“Our son and daughter-in-law haven’t been inside the house since February; we’re very careful,” Murphy said. “We see them every other week, outdoors only.”
It’s a similar story for Peter Kilduff and his wife, who live in New Britain. Last year they travelled to Texas to visit their son for the holiday. This time, it will just be the two of them.
“There’s no place like home,” Kilduff said. “We’re going to have a nice meal and just try to enjoy the holiday the best we can under these conditions. It won’t be like years past.”
The couple is planning to get in touch with their two sons and daughter by telephone at some point during the day.
Nina Jankowski, also of New Britain, called holiday adjustments due to the pandemic “unfortunate but necessary.”
“We’re basically just downsizing,” Jankowski said of her family. “Fewer people at the table and staying close to home.”
Bristol City Councilman Peter Kelley has a big family. They’ve weaved a web of different avenues to celebrate amongst each other safely this Thanksgiving.
“My brother-in-law is going to be coming from Hebron; he will have dinner with his elderly mother, my mother in law, she’s 94,” Kelley said. “We’re going to stay at home and I’ll enjoy a beer with him on the front porch later on, socially-distanced. My daughter, my son and my sister are also coming, as opposed to the large group. Things are going to be a little disjointed but you have to do your part to stop the virus.”
Taking time off from a big gathering to keep everyone safe helps ensure future holidays together, Kelley pointed out.
“We’re all suffering from covid fatigue and we want to get together with our friends, but hopefully in making these moves and sacrificing a bit, we’ll ensure we’ll be able to spend future Thanksgivings together,” he said.
Gov. Ned Lamont issued a solemn Thanksgiving Eve message Wednesday, reminding Connecticut to be thankful.
“At this time of year it’s traditional to take time to reflect on what’s most important in our lives and express gratitude,” Lamont said. “Like so many things during this past year, it’s hard to find comfort in this familiar custom when there are reminders of the strangeness of the times all around us. There’s no way to put on a cheerful face and pretend that everything is whole when we’ve lost so much…And yet there’s hope and plenty to be grateful for. The adversity of this moment has reminded us how inspiring and courageous our fellow citizens are who have made sacrifices on our behalf… It’s not easy, but the more we express our collective thanks by keeping each other safe when there are treatments so close at hand, the sooner we can get back to the life that we so dearly miss.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at email@example.com.