Even as a little girl, the thought of Thanksgiving filled me with excitement! This was the one time of year my whole family gathered together. Our holiday tradition started over 75 years ago in my parents’ small house in New York and has continued every year since… except for this year. What started out as a gathering of around 18 people has grown to over 45 people, spanning four generations from the ages of 3 months to 92 years young. And we are truly spread now from “Sea to Shining Sea” and everywhere in between.

The planning of Thanksgiving has passed down to the next generation, and as my husband and I took up the mantle (given our love of cooking) it has reached new levels. Every October my husband sends out an excel spreadsheet to all family members. The “fam” (as my oldest son has nicknamed the group) fills out when they are arriving, what dishes they are going to make, and what groceries they will need. Because very few people live in the same city, the event now starts the Monday before Thanksgiving and ends the Sunday after, so much food planning and preparation needs to take place. Just on Turkey day alone, we cook two 18 lb. turkeys, four 5 lb. ducks, two different types of stuffing, six side dishes, and five desserts. The kitchen, always the center of our house, is organized bedlam with everyone packed in talking, helping, laughing, and having fun...but not this year. Even our annual Turkey Day flag football game (with its friendly yet fierce competition) will not take place. Because of concern for everyone’s health, we have decided to heed the public health experts’ recommendations and cancel our family tradition. Everyone is disappointed!! So how can we all make the best of it?

Here are a few suggestions for keeping connected during the Thanksgiving holiday:

Sharing of Recipes

Pick a few of the favorite Thanksgiving recipes and share them with each other. Knowing that all of us will be eating the same food, though we may be miles apart, promotes a feeling of closeness. Two of our family recipes, which we are sharing, focus on comfort foods. Comfort is much needed at this time. Our recipes are Andouille Cornbread Stuffing and an easy Baked Mac & Cheese with Four Types of Cheeses. The smokiness of the Andouille sausage combined with the medium heat of the Cajun Seasoning and jalapeño chile enlivens the cornbread and contrasts well with the mild flavorful turkey. And a rich Mac & Cheese, oozing with different types of cheese and a little spice, is always a favorite with people of all ages.

Taking Photos and Making a Collage

“Pictures say a thousand words”, especially when you cannot be there to share in the family fun. So, this year because there will be many small family gatherings on Thanksgiving, we have decided to document them all well with pictures, and then put them together into a photo collage to share with everyone. For us, we have a family calendar, which we put together every year, so this year will have a special Thanksgiving collage page. However, there are many other ways you can share the photos. And of course, we will have multiple photos of people sitting around the dinning room tables partaking in the delicious Turkey Day meals.

A - Z(ing) before Dinner

I know many of us by now have formed a love-hate relationship with zoom technology. It has become at times a welcome and at times an intrusive part of our daily lives. Yet, it certainly is a way to keep people connected, especially during the holiday season. The trick is to find the right time to zoom. We suggest zooming while people are enjoying their appetizers and cocktails, not as they sit down for the Thanksgiving meal. Make a few simple appetizers, have some liquid libation available, and take the time then to connect with the family members who can not join you at your table. That way the main meal does not get cold and your attention is not diverted from the people who have come to share your Thanksgiving dinner. One very simple appetizer recipe we recommend is Bread with Tuscan Dipping Seasoning. Dipping warm crusty bread into olive oil infused with SFL Tuscan Bread Dipping Seasoning is always a big hit. And the Drinks and Cocktail section on our website provides a full array of different types of cocktails and mocktails to enjoy.

So, though Thanksgiving 2020 may not be as we would have hoped, it does not mean that we cannot enjoy some delicious food and some special time together over the holiday!

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