Thanksgiving During the Pandemic

By Alex

Author: Alex Delaney

With the pandemic showing no signs of abating, Thanksgiving will not be the same for many families. Yet, having Thanksgiving without family seems sacrilegious. Enter: the wonderful world of technology! You can socially distance and protect your older family members by hosting a Zoom Thanksgiving! While not ideal, following the below steps will ensure you see your loved ones during this important American holiday and help them feel connected.

Step One: Appoint a host who is tech-savvy and patient. 

    1. This person will need to gently prepare older, less tech-savvy family members to participate. 
    2. At least a week before the event, do a run through with the less tech-savvy members to work out any glitches and help them feel more comfortable with the process.
    3. The host will also be responsible for sending a reminder prior to the gathering with the Zoom link and password.

Step Two: Set up the logistics.

    1. Have a set start time and make sure all of the cooks plan to have their meals ready and on the table at that start time. 
    2. You can also have a prep time Zoom meeting where the cooks place their laptops in the kitchen for family interaction during the cooking time. For older family members, just seeing family doing their normal Thanksgiving activities will help them feel connected. Intermittent interaction is fine during this phase. 

Step Three: Conduct a run through the week before. This is especially important for older folks who may get frustrated by the process. This will give them another opportunity to gain confidence and will help iron out any glitches with all attendees prior to the special day.

    1. While conducting the run-through, determine the best placement for your laptop and seating for the present guests. Encourage your virtual guests to do the same. Your table seating may look unusual, but you want to make sure the Zoom guests can see family who is present. Your grandparents may want to sit side by side as they participate via Zoom. 
    2. Point out the difficulties when several people talk at once during this practice run. This will allow everyone to see how important it is to take turns talking.
    3. Also, point out how imperfect this will be. By understanding the limitations you will reduce frustration and keep it fun.

Step Four: Make it fun! Keep family traditions.

    1. Decorate your tables as you normally would. But make sure to include a setting for the laptop that allows the Zooming relatives a view of the table and various people. 
    2. Have family dress as they usually would for a normal Thanksgiving. If your family dresses up, give your shut-in relatives a chance to feel special. And if Grandma sent little Annie a special dress recently, give her the pleasure of seeing Annie all dolled up!
    3. If your family usually goes around the table to express thanks for the year, make sure to include time for this tradition. If not, this would be a great time to add a new tradition and a wonderful way to give your isolated relatives a chance to hear from all of the family members.

After dinner:

Now that bellies are full and bodies are relaxed, keep the traditions going by moving your laptop to the living room so you can cheer with your relatives as your favorite team plays. This year’s line-up: 12:30 Houston Texans at Detroit Lions, 4:30 Washington at Dallas Cowboys, 8:20 Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers. (Eastern Standard Time).

Don’t forget before dinner: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. Imagine grandma’s delight at watching the faces of her grandchildren as Pikachu flies by!

Other ideas:

    1. If your family is local, but still needs to distance, have each family member make double the recipe of an assigned dish and send portions to each home prior to mealtime. 
    2. If a younger family member wants to learn a certain recipe, have an older member cook with them via Zoom prior to the meal.

Make this Thanksgiving a special family time and help reduce the feelings of isolation and stress.

Make this a Thanksgiving to remember.

Happy Turkey Day!!!


Alex’s Cornbread Dressing Recipe


2 lg onions, chopped

1 ½  cup celery and leaves, chopped

1 cup butter

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1 Tbsp salt

½ tsp pepper

2 tsp poultry seasoning

8 cups crumbled corn bread

4 cups wheat bread cubes (8-12 slices) 

4 eggs

2 cups browned sausage (sage)


Cook onion and celery in butter on low. Add parsley, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and sausage. Blend into a large bowl with cubed bread and cornbread. Add slightly beaten eggs and toss with two large forks.

Place in a buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle with giblet broth, milk, or water.

Cover and bake at 325 for 15 min

Uncover and continue baking for 15 min, or until browning at the edges.