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Pandemic Forces Families Thanksgiving Traditions to Online Platforms

Coronavirus Pandemic

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Honey-baked ham, collard greens, baked macaroni and cheese, and candied yams.

For many, particularly in the Black community, as Thanksgiving approaches, they can almost smell the aroma of the love-infused meals.

Surely, they also can imagine the taste that might include a dessert featuring red velvet cake, sweet potato pie, or banana pudding.

With such a short time remaining before Thanksgiving, some might already ponder watching football or, perhaps, laughing at the latest incarnation of the Macy’s Parade, or a marathon of their favorite classic television show.

For most, Thanksgiving 2020 will prove a bit different than previous holidays even as there remains an increased eagerness to return to some sense of normalcy.

Experts have reiterated that the science is precise: the threat and spread of COVID-19 have increased at alarming rates, with the United States remaining the top global hotspot.

“It’s more important than ever to double down on personal safety and public health precautions. Wear a mask, wash your hands, maintain physical distance, and avoid crowds, particularly if you are in a high-risk group,” said Dr. Tom Kenyon, the former director of the Center for Global Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Kenyon, who now serves as the chief health officer at Project Hope, a nonprofit global health organization, said it’s crucial to adhere to the CDC’s best practices as cooler weather and flu season kicks into full swing.

“As for Thanksgiving and gatherings, we have to keep reminding ourselves: Is this group dinner or holiday party worth risking someone’s life?” Dr. Kenyon remarked.

The U.S. has recorded nearly 11 million coronavirus cases, including more than 100,000 new diagnoses each day since November 4. The death toll has exceeded 240,000, and health experts have repeatedly warned of more fatalities as officials await a vaccine.

The University of Maryland Medical Center also has listed guides to a risk-free virtual Thanksgiving dinner.

Center officials offered that families could set up a laptop at the dinner table and dig in as they enjoy conversation with loved ones.

Families can also host video calls before or after dinner to enjoy more intimate conversations and even playing charades or trivia over Zoom or other platforms.

“We are having a virtual thanksgiving. Both of my parents advised that my family and I stay home for this holiday,” noted Tiffany Hill, an African American woman who created Puzzle and Bloom.

This creative toy company offers puzzles and stickers that highlight children of diverse cultures and traditions.

“I was sad at first, but we are going to cook, save on gas and just stay home,” Hill added.

“We have planned a Zoom or Facetime call with my parents. So, it won’t be too bad. But, I cannot remember the last time I didn’t go home for the holidays.”

Pamela Washington-Turner, a co-author of Daughters of Promise Devotional, also relayed her disappointment over not being home for Thanksgiving.

However, the Turner family has turned the gloomy prospect of missing in-person contact with loved ones into a special night that promises to become a highlight of 2020.

“Initially, [my family] planned to travel to Detroit, Michigan, to spend time with my brother and his family for Thanksgiving. His only child is turning one, so they are also going to celebrate her first birthday,” Washington-Turner stated.

“Since the COVID numbers have begun to skyrocket out of control, we have halted our plans to drive to Detroit and have family Thanksgiving via Zoom. This Zoom call will include many descendants of my great grandparents. This will ensure that we are all safe and not risking our health for the holidays.”