Why a Simpler Thanksgiving May Not be So Bad

By Meg Walburn Viviano 

It’s a week before Thanksgiving, the time when people who are hosting gatherings plan the dishes they’ll serve, pull out the good tablecloth, and grocery shop for a crowd. 

It’s the time when those who attend gatherings load up for a road trip or board an airplane, to share the holiday and visit with family from near and far. 

The usual November pleasantries among co-workers or neighbors go like this: “So, where are you going for Thanksgiving?” After all, the day before Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest travel day of the year. 

In 2020, however, the question is phrased differently: “What are you going to do about Thanksgiving this year?” For many, the answer is simply, “Stay home.”  

Governor Larry Hogan announced he has canceled his own family gathering in favor of a holiday at home, and praised the hundreds of Marylanders who say they’re doing the same. 

Some people might be disappointed to lose their treasured traditions, but I have found the smallest holiday gatherings can sometimes be the most special. In recent years my family’s Thanksgiving has gotten smaller and more intimate—a dinner party for six rather than a feast for 16. 

Our shift to a simpler Thanksgiving happened gradually, for a variety of reasons: my mother’s cancer diagnosis, my giving birth a week before Thanksgiving, my great-aunt reaching her mid-90s. One year, we bought the entire meal from a local farm, in the form of heat-up family style dishes. Another year, my aunt brought a turkey and I cooked the green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberries and stuffing. Our group was so small we had leftovers for days. 

Each time we had a small, at-home holiday, I noticed something: without all the extensive prep and travel, I had more time for simple joys. We began going to church on Thanksgiving morning and, well… giving thanks. We watched every marching band in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. I even got away for a solo jog through our quiet neighborhood streets. 

While this year’s pandemic Thanksgiving may not be our first choice, there are moments of joy to be found in it. In this issue of CBM Bay Weekly, we’re giving you all the tools to make it a special holiday on a smaller scale. Chesapeake Country’s pro chefs share scaled-down recipes to make a fabulous meal. And we’re offering suggestions for new traditions to try on Thanksgiving Day—some for family bonding  and others to help those hit hardest by these times. 

We hope you find the little joys in this simple Thanksgiving. If you try out any of our chefs’ recipes, please share them on Facebook and tag Bay Weekly, or email them to us at [email protected]