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Cooking up plans for a COVID-19 Thanksgiving

Give your grandparents a special gift this Thanksgiving — stay away from them. No hugs. No rambunctious family dinners with turkey and homemade pumpkin pie. No clinking of wine glasses. No piling onto the couch to watch football.

Being robbed of the best part of the holiday festivities makes me want to curl up and stay put in bed. The thought of spending Thanksgiving alone makes me want to cry.

But wait! What if we create a new norm for this disastrous year? How do we bring joy, laughter and love into the lives of our family, friends and neighbors?

Here’s what I’m going to do: I plan to write to each of the people I normally celebrate with — something silly, or funny, or any special memory I have of them.

Dear Mary, Remember when you made the layered Jello salad for that summer potluck? I still get the giggles when I think of how the top layer flew off like a spaceship and plopped on the floor. Remember how we tried to pick up the quivering, shivering green and orange blob and put it back on top of the layers still on the plate? We were laughing so much that we ended up with scrambled Jello. Shall miss being with you this Thanksgiving.

Dear Gramps, I’ll never forget when you used to dig up the flower beds on Halloween, and bury speakers and create mounds that looked like graves. When trick-or-treaters would walk up, your wicked voice boomed from within the mounds, “Who dares to walk up my pathway?” The kids would run away. Thank you for the wonderful memories. P.S., my friends and I never believed your hoax, but we always pretended, because we loved the trick.

To others, I will send notes telling them why I’m so grateful to have them in my life.

A Thanksgiving ritual my husband and I have is lighting many candles. We think of very special people that we wish were here to celebrate with us. We say a word or three about them, and light a tea candle for each of them. They remain lit for our meal. Those dear folks are the light of our lives on the day of giving thanks.

This year, I hope to make a special effort to write down, on a bunch of yellow stickies, what I’m grateful for — autumn leaves, quiet time, homegrown herbs, books I’ve read, Zoom calls with friends, good health, the YMCA pool and more. I will decorate the table with my stickies, and bathe in the warmth of all my blessings.

I also plan to drop off little notes at each of my neighbors’ doorsteps, just wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving. For some I’ll have to write, “You don’t know me, but I now live a few doors from you. Just wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving. We are all in this COVID isolation together.”

Wish you all a very special and memorable Thanksgiving.

Asifa Kanji lives in Ashland.

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