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Thanksgiving in the time of COVID

Jody Vance: For some, skipping the big family gathering is a big ask. But ask it we must – or find ways to get safely creative.
Not this year, guys. Sorry.

When the calendar flips to October, you can viscerally feel the societal split into two camps:

“Serve up the pumpkin spice” vs “Dear God, help me through this season of family dinners.”

Be honest: reading this, you know precisely which camp you fall into.

Some (like me) are quite happy to simply not make it a big deal. I’m not into the guilt associated with missing THE DINNER.

Conversely, there are those who literally live for the harvest feast, and all its bells, whistles, and trimmings. For them, this 2020 holiday season will be difficult. I can sympathize with those who want to cover their ears and “la-la-la” when told to dial back on holiday plans – but it has never been more vital to hear health officials.

Okay, not everyone falls into those two camps (but I bet you know those who do) yet I have detected some serious peer pressure out there about Thanksgiving being business as usual.

Fact of the matter is: business as usual has a new mandate. And it’s not a big family dinner with a kids table.

Like just about everything else, Thanksgiving must be different this year. Ignoring health measures – that have saved so many – in the name of gathering in gratitude is absolutely backwards.

Instead of putting our most cherished and beloved at risk, let’s get creative. What better time to take those dollars typically spent on a splashy family dinner and donate it? Give back on the day made for giving gratitude.

It’s tough, no question. The immovable matriarch who demands the family fall in each and every fall season is a tough one to turn. But hold firm you must. Even one evening of broken rules could up-end everyone. It’s just not worth it when you consider how some recent family dinners have played out.

Start with phrases like: “we are keeping our bubble extra tighter this Thanksgiving, but would love to connect for a walk or a physical distancing outdoor visit.”

Or “Some in our circle are high risk. So we have to err on the side of caution and skip the big dinner this year.”

That doesn’t mean Thanksgiving is cancelled; you’re better than that. DO your traditional holiday eats. Make them in advance, freeze them and deliver to everyone to heat and eat over Zoom. That’s just one idea. Get creative in how this COVID harvest season should happen.

Last week’s column was all about the importance of gathering safely. Getting creative this fall and winter will be vital to our collective mental health.

Thanksgiving CAN happen – with the proper protocols in place. Socialize outside, no buffets or serve yourself setups, no punch bowl.

But when you get the call begging to just have this one gathering — pause.

This week’s Middle hopes to help relieve pressure one might feel to attend gatherings outside of tight bubbles. First and foremost, don’t. There are ways to kindly and calmly – but firmly – decline in the name of staying safe.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.


  • Last week, Jody Vance said we need to give people better options than Zoom and yet another walk around the block.
  • Jody's UnSpun guest last week was fellow BC broadcasting icon (and friend) Drex. From close encounters with politicians to the reason he's called Drex, few stones are left unturned.
  • Last October - in the beforetimes when we could still see people face to face - Bruce MacDonald wondered what the federal parties would do to help charities.