As Thanksgivings go, Thanksgiving 2020 will undoubtedly go down in the books as a real turkey. How enjoyable is it to celebrate a holiday when we are told to stay home and stay away from everyone except immediate household members? The pandemic has cast a pall on the entire year, and now it is robbing us of traditional celebrations. But if we pick through the bones of this turkey of a holiday this year, positives can be identified. Yes, really!
Let’s Talk Turkey
Thanksgiving and turkey go together like peanut butter and jelly. It is hard to imagine one without the other. While we may not have Grandma, Uncle Horace, cousin Betty, and the rest of the clan around the Thanksgiving table, mercifully, we can still have a turkey gracing it.
About 40 million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving according to the National Turkey Federation. While TP has at times been scarce during 2020, there are no turkey shortages across the board. So, if you want to gobble down some turkey for Thanksgiving, you will not be disappointed.
That having been said, however, there is a challenge facing Americans. Consumers are facing a harder time finding smaller turkeys to serve for their big holiday meal. Kroger found that 43% of its shoppers planned to celebrate Thanksgiving with only those in their immediate household. Thus, there’s no need for a ginormous turkey to fill the special turkey platter. The pandemic has driven up the demand for smaller turkeys.
This shift in demand is good news for male turkeys who are also known as Toms. Most large turkeys (defined as more than 16 pounds) are male. Most small turkeys are female and are called hens. Preparing smaller turkeys is thus going to result in a hen party this Thanksgiving.
We Gather Together
The Centers for Disease Control, familiarly known as CDC, has recommended people not travel for Thanksgiving due to the pandemic. So gathering together with kith and kin who do not live in the local area is pumpkin pie in the sky for those who adhere to this advice. CDC is such a party pooper! Right now that acronym seems to stand for Cancelling Desired Celebration.
Despite the ban on in person gatherings, people can still gather together–just not in the traditional Thanksgiving way. Using technology, relatives and friends may share a meal albeit virtually. In the past? TV dinners. Now? Zoom dinners.
Gathering together is such an integral part of celebrating Thanksgiving that the hymn most associated with Thanksgiving is “We Gather Together.” But the back story of this hymn provides a better understanding of something else which Americans can be thankful for despite an ongoing pandemic.
The hymn, of Dutch origin, was written in 1597 and its words were set to the music of a well known folk tune. The song had nothing to do with a holiday. It celebrated the Dutch victory over the Spanish at the Battle of Turnhout. The Protestant Dutch were fighting a war of liberation against Spain’s Catholic king who forbade them to assemble for worship. The king basically told them, “Don’t Gather Together!” To stick it to the king, then, the victorious Dutch thus gleefully sang “We Gather Together.” Well at least they sang that idea in their native language.
Although the pandemic may have altered the look of church services with congregants wearing masks and socially distancing, Americans of faith can still be thankful this Thanksgiving. There is no government prohibition against assembling to worship as one sees fit. We can gather with those of like faith whenever we choose–Thanksgiving or any other day of the year.
After a turkey, the Pilgrims are the probably the most familiar thing about an American Thanksgiving. In fact, the holiday is based on what the Pilgrims did hundreds of years ago. Even though the pandemic has radically changed how the holiday will be celebrated this year, everyone can be thankful that a modern celebration looks nothing like the one the Pilgrims observed.
Sure the pandemic has caused an ever mounting and ghastly death toll in 2020. But the Pilgrims had it way worse. The 53 Pilgrims who celebrated the first Thanksgiving had survived the long journey on the Mayflower and the first winter in the new world. Disease and starvation struck down HALF (that’s 50% for those of you who are mathematically challenged) of the original 102 colonists. Thankfully COVID-19 is nowhere near decimating half of this country’s population.
If Americans have to scale back their celebrations, they will surely have an easier time than the Pilgrims did. Their celebration lasted for three days, and there were no paper plates, refrigerators, and microwaves back then. Sounds like lots of work for the Pilgrim womenfolk–who are believed to have only been four in number by then.
The Pilgrims’ guest list was rather lengthy as well. Ninety Wampanoag Indians from a nearby village gathered with them. That puts having 20 family members over for Thanksgiving dinner in perspective, huh? But the Indians were well-mannered guests and brought a hostess gift–5 freshly killed deer. I guess it is the thought that counts because such a gift would make me lose my appetite for a big holiday meal.
We, of course, could use the Pilgrims as inspiration for adhering to CDC guidelines this year. An outdoor meal is suggested. Turkey, but not deer, al fresco it is! See? There really are some positives to be found in this turkey of a Thanksgiving 2020.
Will you be abiding by CDC guidelines for observing Thanksgiving? If so, how? What positives can you find in this surreal Thanksgiving 2020? Have you ever stopped to think about the details of the first Thanksgiving celebrated by the Pilgrims?