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Can Thanksgiving Traditions Survive a Four-Year Pause?

Can Thanksgiving Traditions Survive a Four-Year Pause?


For decades, I enjoyed Thanksgiving. Each year, we traveled to my parents’ or one of my brothers’, or in-law’s, houses. Twelve to fifteen people sat around two, age-defined tables and ate a hearty, redolent, mid-afternoon meal of turkey, stuffing, homemade, tangy, locally (New Jersey bogs!)-sourced cranberry sauce, yams, vegetables and some hot, savory soup. Calmly festive. 

Afterward, the males threw and caught a football in the chilly twilight air. Then we all reassembled inside for homemade pies. We had plenty of time to talk about whatever in a warm, cozy indoor setting. There was no hectic, gift-shopping runup to the celebration. And we usually got the next three days off. It was a convivial, nutritionally-fortifying prelude to winter.


This year, I proposed bringing to my brother’s New England house some of our four-year-old hens, who’ve stopped laying eggs, slaughtering them on a tree stump in his backyard and serving them for dinner. I don’t love the grisly, gristly, labor-intensive process of killing, plucking, gutting and cutting up chickens. And old, laying hens have less flesh than do the commercial oven-stuffers, plus a more austere texture and flavor.

But I think it’s important to understand what goes into putting food on a table. I thought that DIY-ing dinner fowl would be humbling and “authentic.” 

Is something authentic if it’s surrounded by quotation marks? Regardless, you can compensate—at least partially—for tough, dry poultry by slathering on extra cranberry sauce. 

I sent out a group email with my back-to-the-land proposal to all who are supposed to attend. No one responded. After the past 45 months, I’m used to having people to whom I’ve sent countercultural messages pretend that they didn’t receive anything. So I guess no one likes this latest idea, either. OK, I’ll leave the chickens in New Jersey. Car space was already going to be tight. 

Our full family hasn’t met for Thanksgiving since 2019. We’ve skipped some Christmases, too; though by now, the past four years kind of run together in my memory. 

The return to a larger group this year raises a series of questions.

Is something still a tradition if it’s suspended for three years? Tradition connotes something that occurs no matter what; you bend to tradition, it doesn’t bend for you. The last three years of Thanksgiving were canceled on the weak premise that somebody might catch a cold from someone who didn’t even have a cold. 

Is family a touchstone and an unconditional support network when that role and expectation were suspended over a media and government-hyped respiratory virus? Aren’t families supposed to apply charitable double standards to each other; isn’t a big part of family making exceptions for members? It’s one thing—though irrational—to deem asymptomatic strangers unclean and threatening. But would you do that to your own parent, child, sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew?

Will anyone—besides me—mention this intervening period of fearful foolishness that caused this break in tradition? Am I—are we—all supposed to pretend this hiatus—and the past 45 months, overall—never happened? Are we expected to tacitly, albeit unreasonably, agree that hiding from other people, including family members, ever made sense? 

Should we pretend that doing so didn’t damage billions of people around the world, including the adult children around our table? And that the Covid “mitigation” hasn’t dug them a social and economic hole out of which they’ll spend the rest of their lives trying to climb? While they struggled mightily for many months to find work and were impeded from meeting and making friends and mates, didn’t Big Tech, Big Media, government, and Big Pharma capture trillions in wealth from the poor and middle class and pass it to the rich and well-connected? 

Should I mention at the dinner table that although everyone finally feels it’s safe to meet, many people are supposedly still getting “the virus?” Should I remind them that I’m still unvaxxed and still haven’t gotten sick? Will they fear me less now than during the past four years, even though they should have felt protected by their birth certificates and their beloved shots? How much would attendees bristle if I said that the shots that so many blindly believed in—or at least submitted to—have not only failed but damaged immune systems and put those who took them at long-term risk of cardiovascular and reproductive failure and cancer? 

During Coronamania, most people at the table didn’t know they were being scammed. They never asked obvious questions. They followed the crowd and put one foot in front of the other. They didn’t know what, or who, had hit them. They didn’t see where the overreaction would lead. They still don’t.

Those around the table think of themselves as open-minded. But will they be willing to calmly discuss any of the foregoing? Or will we just chat about Taylor Swift, some podcast, and desserts? There are no babies to talk about or tend to. The adult kids aren’t having kids of their own. Being quarantined, or self-quarantining, didn’t help them to meet people. 

I wonder who the unpaired thirty-somethings will share the Thanksgiving and year-round dinner tables with a decade or two from now. 


But Thanksgiving is about compartmentalizing. If everything went well, we wouldn’t need to set aside a day to remind ourselves about all of the things that were going well; we’d be thankful every day. 

On Thanksgiving, we’re supposed to disregard that which hasn’t gone well and focus on that which has; even if the list of what has gone well is much shorter than that which hasn’t. If you’re sitting in a warm place, forking and spooning tasty food into your own mouth, and are surrounded by people whose names you remember and can get up from the table and help with the dishes, you’re comparatively blessed.

This year, as on every day of every year, I’m thankful for these and other blessings too numerous to list. 

Despite how irreparably destructive and depressing the Scamdemic has been, I, too, must compartmentalize. I’m extremely grateful for the many well-written, clear-eyed, affirming messages readers have sent me over the past two-plus years. In general, I don’t need much affirmation in life. I’m not a people-pleaser; it doesn’t bother me to be disliked, or even hated, for what I believe in. Specifically, I knew from Day 1 how phony and destructive the Covid interventions were. I didn’t need others’ validation in order to trust my own perception. 

But your well-informed and well-composed messages were important because they allowed me to believe in other people. It lifted my spirits to know that not everyone had completely lost their heads. You gave a sense of solidarity with humanity that had been slipping away. 

I wish I could have found you in March, 2020. I wasn’t Internet-savvy enough to know where the sane, foresightful people were. I don’t use Facebook or Instagram and didn’t know how to send my message to others. I still don’t know how to reach a wider group. But we eventually found each other; too late and too few in number to prevent the Coronamania train wreck but at least early and abundant enough to prevent complete despair and alienation.

I’ve met some of you in-person and spoken to dozens of you on the phone. You are all welcome to email me at, or call, or stop at my house for a meal. Maybe we can share a very fresh chicken. 

After all that’s happened, I feel a kinship to you that’s stronger than that which I feel for some kin. From the depths of my being, thank you for letting me know that you can discern between hype and reality and reason and insanity. We won’t share the same table today. But I’ll be thinking about you all.

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