I don’t think there is any way to sugarcoat the fact that this Thanksgiving may not be the best Thanksgiving of record for many people.
Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time to reflect and look back on the year and give thanks. The celebration is meant to illustrate how adversity and obstacles can be overcome and how we should be thankful for what we have as individuals, a family and a nation. But for many of us, that may be hard to do this year.
In a more pragmatic context this is a time for family gatherings, sporting events, parades, a break from studying or work, mini-vacations, shopping bonanzas and a special dinner gathering at some point (whether that’s a turkey or a lasagna).
This year, because of COVID 19, things are different. Many of these family gatherings, activities and celebrations will either be on hold, will be scaled back, or will outright be cancelled. Even sitting across the table from loved ones may not be possible. The very connections we cherish with family, friends, and colleagues, as part of a Thanksgiving break or Celebration, will be disrupted and set aside. Yes, for most people, Thanksgiving will be very different this year. And as we look ahead to the holiday season the prospects for putting COVID 19 behind us and returning to normal don’t seem very likely at this moment.
But, it is still Thanksgiving. That does not change. How we celebrate may be different, but we will find ways to gather with family (Zooming, separate dining arrangements, social distancing, masked family functions, etc.). Events, in some way shape or form, will take place (virtually or in limited settings). I suspect someone will still cook the turkey or the lasagna. And I hope many of us will at least have a break or a pause or a few days to relax. Yes, Thanksgiving will be different. But it is still Thanksgiving.
It goes without saying that we will all find ways to celebrate Thanksgiving. But please remember, the best Thanksgiving is a safe and healthy Thanksgiving. Wear face coverings, social distance, avoid crowds, be cautious when traveling, take special precautions when interacting with children, seniors or those relatives with health issues. Wash your hands constantly, carry sanitizers and just be courteous of distancing and manners when you are with others (family or strangers). The point is we all want to be here to celebrate a more normal Thanksgiving…next year!
Above all try to remember that despite the hardships, economic pain, health struggles, loss of loved ones and friends, and overall disruption in our lives, Thanksgiving will still be celebrated. And as you celebrate (formally or informally), please take a moment to try to see the things in your lives, your families, and in your community and in this nation that are worth celebrating and being thankful for. Yes, that is harder to do this Thanksgiving, but you owe it to yourselves to try to see a way forward, the positives and the path ahead. We will get through this as a nation. We always have!
To students, faculty, staff, alumni, administrators and friends of the College and University please have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.
Dean Smith and the College of Public Affairs and Administration Team