Thanksgiving, This Year vs. Last

Welcome. Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving, and whether you’re celebrating at home, away or not at all, it’s likely that this year’s holiday looks different from last year’s. The vaccine’s changed the options for many of us, opening up possibilities for family gatherings and Friendsgivings. As with everything these days, we’re figuring it out as we go, negotiating new situations awkwardly (maybe) but with compassion (hopefully).

I find myself this year savoring the questions that, pre-pandemic, were the stuff of polite small-talk: What are your plans for the holidays? Doing anything fun this weekend? Now, it feels like a privilege to even ask such questions, to live in a world where plans for the future are being made. Last week, I asked what you’re doing for Thanksgiving. Here’s what some of you said. (Responses have been edited for length and clarity.)

  • “Looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with my mom, sister and sister’s family in person this year! Last year, with my sister eight months pregnant and Covid cases on the rise, we opted for a Zoom get-together. I can’t wait to spend the holiday together, although last year did have its advantages: With no traveling, I had plenty of time to try out a new challah recipe that turned out beautifully.” —Annie Brown, Chicago

  • “Both my husband and my first husband, father of my children, are now gone. They died during the time of Covid, not of Covid but rather through effects of old age. My husband was almost 101; my first, a mere 82. In the past 35-plus years, we worked hard to create a happy and functional expanded family, post-divorce, rather than let our differences cause a permanent rending. Our children and I will all travel to the Midwest, home of their stepmom. We will regroup during the holidays, as nights grow shorter once again, and begin to evolve the next chapter of family love.” —Lyn Corder, Oceanside, Calif.

  • “I’ll be joining other friends who don’t have family in the area. We’ll be having a potluck, with each person bringing a homemade side dish.” —Carol Adney, Palm Desert, Calif.

  • “I used to cook a big meal for friends and relatives, or visit friends. Now I am living alone; my husband died last January. I am lucky that here we have Community Harvest, which delivers Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to those of us who are alone, or need help. I called in a reservation and they called back to say that they will deliver midday. I will give them a donation, which is not required.” —Marcia Madeira, Kennebunkport, Maine

  • “We are a couple in our mid-60s with no children. Family lives too far away — what to do? We are going to a Greek restaurant. It will be fun and lively with delicious food!” —Bidu Tashjian, Cold Spring, N.Y.

  • Check out Wordle, a guessing game that roughly follows the rules of the old plastic-peg game Mastermind. You guess a five-letter word, the computer tells you which letters that you’ve guessed are in the word and whether they’re in the right place. You get six tries to figure it out. There’s only one word to guess per day, thank goodness, or I’d never meet a deadline again.

  • Max Read’s taxonomy of and love letter to ’90s Dad Thrillers makes for a fun read and provides a watching list if you’re into films like “The Hunt for Red October,” “Die Hard” and their ilk.

  • Are you having mixed feelings about returning to work in an office? Emma Goldberg’s story “The Worst of Both Worlds: Zooming From the Office” captures the joys and sorrows of hybrid work.

What are you watching, listening to, cooking or reading over the holiday? Tell us: [email protected] Be sure to include your full name and location and we might feature your response in a future newsletter. We’re At Home and Away. We’ll read every letter sent. And of course you’ll find more ideas for passing the time below.