It’s that time of year again, and in any other given year, my extended family and friends gather together for our annual Thanksgiving brunch, a tradition my grandmother began before I was born. Later, my family and I drive to Cherry Hill for the annual feast at my aunt’s house.
I woke up as on any other ordinary day mid-afternoon to my own parents attempting to put together our Thanksgiving meal. To speak plainly, my family has practically no culinary talent, at least I don’t, so I assumed this experiment of my father’s would fail. However, given the pandemic and change in our traditions, as my last year at home before college, my father saw this as an opportunity to try making Thanksgiving dinner together, as a family.
I sat in the kitchen eating my breakfast as I watched the annual parade on TV; however, not the Philadelphia parade, not this year. Glaring at the TV, New York looked empty as the floats roamed through the streets. No people, no cheering, no heads peeking out the windows of apartments and hotels. It was lifeless, it couldn’t possibly be Thanksgiving.
At four that afternoon, I joined this year’s version of Thanksgiving through Zoom as I watched my new baby cousin entertain us all. While technology presents temporary solutions to the social detriment of the pandemic, it is a constant reminder of what is lost. I am reminded of this again when I sit down with my parents and sister at our empty dining room table to Zoom my family on my dad’s side, and again, reminded of what I am missing. While I’m lucky that I live so close to my grandparents, the times I see them are limited.
Across the country, families struggle to make appropriate plans for the holidays, struggling with missing out on traditions. Every family has their own holiday traditions, but with 2020, tradition is impossible: we simply must be flexible with change. Nothing sounds better than gathering together for Thanksgiving dinner, my cousins and I fighting over who opens their gifts first at our annual Hanukkah gathering, and overall enjoying the time with family and friends after so much isolation for what seems like a century. But with an infectious-disease, the guidelines are straightforward; however, how we respond to those guidelines presents many grey areas.
For the Gamburg family, we took a dreadful situation and used it as a chance to get creative. For the first time ever, a bird roasted in the Gamburg’s oven. Most of the day, my family spent the entire day preparing our meal, even if it was just for us. It was our family experiment, and the combination of our bird, Sweet Potato Souffle, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, and Apple and Pumpkin Pie presented the perfect ingredients to our successful family experiment.
The year of 2020 has presented so many complications to some of our favorite Summer and Fall traditions. However, with the future months of uncertainty ahead, take the time to embrace the situation; rather than focussing on what’s lost, be flexible, get creative, and embrace new traditions.