We were expecting our daughter and her boyfriend to join us for Thanksgiving this year. They live a few hours away, where they have been working from home, wearing masks when they go out, staying away from restaurants and bars. Still, with Florida’s coronavirus numbers soaring (while the governor stays quiet), and in keeping with the CDC’s recommendations, they decided to stay home for Thanksgiving. They’ve cancelled Christmas plans to visit New York family as well.
So, pandemic Thanksgiving was a small affair at our house — my husband, me, and our dog Kumba — but it felt like the best one ever. Why? Because we connected with family in a way we have ever done.
Our daughter asked for my advice on making an apple pie. The recipe she was following called for putting a cookie sheet in the oven at 500 degrees, and then dropping to 425 degrees before placing the completed pie on the cookie sheet. I’ve used a cookie sheet to catch apple ooze before it can drop onto the oven floor and leave a sticky, charred mess. It has never occurred to me to put the sheet in ahead of time to ensure that it was hot, thus keeping the cooking temperature on target for a well-done pie. My daughter’s pie turned out beautifully. Here’s the recipe!
My father was not a religious man, but he knew when gratitude needed to be spoken out loud. Christmas Eve dinner — tacos, growing up, having something to do with our overseas life — was preceded by his “saying a few words” about how lucky the four of us were to be together in Milan, or Bogotá, or Rockville, with opportunities my parents had never imagined growing up in the Midwest.
Over the years, as my sister and I branched out to have families of our own, that tradition morphed into a Thanksgiving ritual involving the holding of hands and, one-by-one, saying out loud what we each were grateful for. The final Thanksgiving we would have with my father was in the home of friends as close as family, Betsy and Dorsey McConnell, in the Boston outskirts. Although we did not know how sick my father was, speaking our gratitude out loud was never more important. “No regrets,” Dad said with a calm smile, just days before he died. It is a great comfort to me.
This year, therefore, the four of us did our gratitude go-round over FaceTime. It was our daughter’s idea. And the sweetest yet.
Yesterday, Zoom brought us together with my sister’s family in Colorado and California. Okay, so the real draw was the baby that made me great, as in Great Aunt Jane.
A year ago, we’d never heard of Zoom. Now, Zoom is connecting the world. I’ve talked with my Amsterdam doctor, nurses, and physiotherapist. My dear friends in Albany, who branded ourselves Table 12 after a rowdy wedding party, still see each other once a month — yes, there’s a reality TV show Table for 12 (sextuplets and two sets of twins), but I’m pretty sure we are still louder — and much better quippers — than they are.
But yesterday was all about Miss P, the new baby of nephew S and niece-in-law B, and, as the photo makes evident, the little sister of Hobart, the Australian shepherd.
What a great Thanksgiving!