COVID-19 made this a most unusual Thanksgiving, mostly due to the fact that we, as a nation, were in a virtual lockdown, largely self-imposed; although, in some states, notably New York and California, mandated by overzealous governors and mayors, who, for reasons known only to them, ignored their own rules.
For personal reasons, we were constrained to hosting three people from our neighborhood, two of whom we barely knew. In preparation for the “sit down,” I began to mentally explore the various ways I could keep us all safe from the dreaded “China virus.” My initial thought was to have everyone wear a mask. I even considered labeling each mask with the individual names of our guests. Nah. That’s too insulting. I settled instead for making a little sign that I placed in front of an array of alcoholic beverages and glasses, which read: “Welcome to the first (and hopefully the last) COVID-19 Thanksgiving. Please take a glass and get a death grip on it. Do NOT relinquish it! We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We’re just trying to keep you safe.”
Next, I opened up our expandable dining room table and inserted the two extra leaves. Normally, doing this would have increased the seating capacity to approximately twelve. However, we were only five, so that would leave lots of safe space between all of us. I placed a chair at each end for Becky and me, one chair in the middle of one of the sides (for our single friend), and two chairs close to one another on the opposite side for our married couple. Social distancing by design. Perfect.
The reality turned out to be more like this. As each guest entered, I stuck out my elbow and we all bumped elbows (rather than shaking hands). We poured ourselves drinks, and everyone stood around the kitchen island, yapping away like survivors on a desert island, while I scrambled around madly preparing dinner. We eventually migrated to the dining room, where each guest settled into his or her appointed chair.
A word about dinner: Timing it all should have been a piece of cake (actually, Becky baked an apple pie). I would put the bird in the oven at 11:00 a.m. (dinner was scheduled for 2:30 p.m.) The turkey would cook for two hours and forty-five minutes; I’d take it out and let it cool before I carved it; and while it cooled, I’d put the candied sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and stuffing in the oven to cook; then, 45 minutes or so later we’d eat. It was masterful plan. All that was left for me to do was carve the bird, and then we’d eat. Not so fast! In our house, a sharp knife is something we’ve only dreamed about purchasing for more than a dozen years. Put simply, due to our endless procrastination, we don’t own one decent piece of cutlery. So, I basically “tore” the turkey, rather than carving it, a process that consumed more time than I could have imagined.
Suffice it to say that we ended up eating an hour and a half later than planned; Becky forgot to prepare her “special” crescent rolls, and I forgot to serve the two plates of cranberry sauce. However, our three guests had brought, collectively, two bottles of wine, a second apple pie, and five pints of ice cream, so, thanks to them, dinner was a smashing success.
The moral of the story is quite simple: When you plan a Thanksgiving dinner for five, allow enough time to prepare a meal for twelve, buy enough food for six, and forget about the rest of the details—they’ll take care of themselves. I guarantee you’ll have the best Thanksgiving you ever had. That’s what we did!
Next stop—Christmas! Happy holiday everyone.