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Celebrating Thanksgiving Together, Without Coming Together

While some people are traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, many have worked out alternative plans to protect themselves and family members from the spread of COVID-19.

Deborah Osgood and her family decided to celebrate Thanksgiving virtually.

Osgood, who lives with just her husband in University Heights these days, said her two adult children, three grandkids, 87-year-old mother and her brother’s family traditionally come together for a potluck-style Thanksgiving dinner.

But this year, dinner will be prepared and eaten separately, and after dinner they will all get together virtually for an evening of video chat fun.

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Deborah Osgood will settle for video chatting with her grandkids Maxwell, Liam and Owen on Thanksgiving. She's still unsure what the family will do for Christmas. [Deboard Osgood] 

Osgood describes her family as a “game family.” She found a virtual bingo game they can play together from their separate homes. While Osgood is making the most of the situation, she said she still feels like this is a holiday with her grandkids that she won’t be able to get back.

“These days feel harder because it’s darker,” she said. “It’s colder. The holidays are a fun and important time in our family’s lives. We usually do celebrate kind of big. We really like to do things together. So this year it’s really hard.”

Osgood’s oldest grandson and her brother both have November birthdays, too. The pair usually open birthday presents together on Thanksgiving Day, but that’s another tradition that will have to be done virtually this year.

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Liam Osgood and his uncle, Rick Tolley, traditionally open birthday presents together on Thanksgiving. [Deborah Osgood]

For some, Thanksgiving traditions are staying the same. Travel is reportedly down this year, but not grinding to a total stop.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration reported more than 1 million people went through airport security somewhere in the United States on Sunday. While that’s about half as many people that traveled the weekend before Thanksgiving in 2019, that’s the highest TSA count since mid-March this year. The day before Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest U.S. travel day of the year.

Many people usually like to take advantage of the long Thanksgiving weekend to get together with friends as well as family. Jennifer Luu hosts an annual “Friendsgiving” party the day after Thanksgiving for 20 to 30 people and a big meal for everyone she cooks entirely by herself.

This year, she won’t pack her Seven Hills house, but the meal is still on.

She’s invited her Friendsgiving guest list to enjoy this home-cooked meal one of two ways: Luu is offering takeout boxes for anyone who wants to stop by for a contactless pickup, as well as a very distanced and limited indoor option. She even made an online survey so her guests can pick and choose which dishes they want in their takeout boxes.

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Luu sent a takeout survery to her usual Friendsgiving invite list. [Jennifer Luu]

“I want to make it as safe for everybody and as comfortable as I could because it is at the end of the day not about them being in my home and having the meal with me. It’s about me feeding them and showing my thanks through food and I

“I want to make it as safe for everybody and as comfortable as I could because it is, at the end of the day, not about them being in my home and having the meal with me,” Luu said. “It’s about me feeding them and showing my thanks through food and I can do that in a box.”

Luu is setting up some dining tables in her house, too, but she said they will be in several different rooms so households can sit away from each other. The groups also will fix plates in shifts so they never have to cross paths.

She is expecting most of her friends to choose the pickup option, but she’s glad that they’re sharing the holiday in any way they can.

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