This Thanksgiving may be trying, but for some of us it won’t be our worst.
One Thanksgiving, I got into an argument with my husband — and abandoned the turkey in the oven.
I ended up taking the kids to a restaurant. They had a great time. But I will always remember the shame of throwing that charred turkey into the garbage.
Then, there was the year we realized something was wrong with my mom. She pulled a turkey out of the oven that had been cooked breast down.
And the year we realized something was wrong with his mom. She showed up with a turkey that was half-cooked and still bloody.
During the years our parents were in charge of Thanksgiving, the holiday was often burdensome. Both sets of our parents were divorced and remarried, which meant we had to run amongst four different households for Thanksgiving dinner.
My stepmom made the best dressing, but I didn’t dare show up at my mother’s table already satisfied.
So we learned to pick and choose our side dishes carefully so as not to offend either set of parents. We would eat purposefully — a little dressing here, some mac and cheese there.
At the end of the night, we would be sick from all of the bites but drunk on the joy of being with brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews and an army of cousins.
Now, in the Age of the Coronavirus, Thanksgiving will be very different for those of us who follow the CDC’s recommendations.
There will be no road trips.
There will be no joining of hands around a table loaded with food to pray God’s blessings over the bounty and over the hands that prepared it.
There will be no gathering of sons and daughters or brothers and sisters who have been squabbling all year nor of the elders who hold out hope that whatever issues drive a wedge between them might be settled before sunset.
There will be no men taking over the living room pretending to look at a football game but actually nodding off during the break between the blessed meal and the second helping.
And there will be no team of mothers trying to wrangle daughters into the kitchen to begin the task of cleaning up.
Here’s hoping that in this Age of the Coronavirus, which is also the Age of Kamala, this tradition will change.
This Thanksgiving is trying because COVID-19 is riding us like a plague, seemingly unleashed with impunity to gather up those who are summoned.
For many of us, this makes this holiday season more important than those of the past.
Not because we throw caution to the wind by tearing off a mask and running headlong into the danger.
But because whether you come from a tribe like mine (I had eight sisters and nine brothers) or are from a family of only two, think about this.
There is always someone worse off.
In Matthew McConaughey’s recently released memoir, he said something that all Black folks my age have heard come out of the mouths of mothers.
McConaughey, the boy-child, was moping over his parents’ refusal to bow to the Brand God selling a certain brand of athletic shoe.
Like our hardworking parents, his mother warned that if he kept complaining, she would “introduce him to the man with no feet.”
We have come full circle.
The same type of people who blamed gay people for the spread of HIV for not using protection are now refusing to protect themselves and others by wearing a mask.
This Thanksgiving, I’m going to miss my sister-in-law’s slow-cooked green beans and potatoes. I’ll also miss my son-in-law’s sweet potato pie and my neighbor’s apple pie.
There will only be us.
This year, it will be just my husband and I celebrating Thanksgiving, thankful that we are still here.