More grateful than ever this Thanksgiving

Once again, COVID has thwarted my plans. Yours, too? It’s become an unwelcome theme as vacations, family reunions, weddings and holiday celebrations are canceled or reimagined.

With positive cases of the virus on the uptick, folks around the world are being encouraged – or in many cases, ordered – to stay home as much as possible. I had planned to visit out-of-state relatives for Thanksgiving when things were looking up, but my dear Rona once again has other plans. And with limited gatherings ordered by the governor two weeks ago, we will not be seeing much of our local relatives, either.

Thanksgiving was always a big deal in my family, as it is with many families. It was typical to have 20-plus people gathered at my grandparents’ house. We started early, with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on the TV while enjoying a Bloody Mary with cheese and crackers.

The big meal was served mid-day and included all the traditional foods, some with a Murray family spin. One “spin” was to the spinach. I have no idea how or who or when this began, but we transform a boring box of frozen chopped spinach into something even all the little kids ate. There isn’t much of a recipe — once cooked, drain the spinach then put it back in the pot and add butter, a dash of onion powder, Italian seasoned bread crumbs and bacon bits. You’re welcome.

This year, I will make the spinach but there may only be four or five of us enjoying it. My cousins may drive-by to say hello and others will Facetime or Zoom. It will be, well, different.

And while I am lamenting normal, I am also embracing having more time with my little family. So many people are forging ahead and weathering this pandemic alone and will eat a meal alone on Thanksgiving. So this year, more than ever, I am thankful for my family. I am grateful to have them gathered around our table. I am enjoying being hunkered down with them and on Thanksgiving I will cook for them, enjoy our time together and keep our tradition of putting up the Christmas decoratiions after all the leftovers are put away and watch “Elf.”

This year we are starting what may become a new family tradition — delivering meals for the Southwick Civic Fund’s “Thanksgiving for All” dinner service. With fewer family members to cook for and entertain, we are taking this opportunity and gift of time to deliver a meal and wish those who cannot get out a Happy Thanksgiving.

My wish for all of us this holiday is to have someone to eat with, whether in person or virtually, and, of course, good health.

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