I thought I had it figured out. We would get Covid tests and gather for the feast at our home. My son and daughter-in-law, Dave and myself. A group of four, well under the Governor’s recommendation for inside gatherings of no more than ten.
Dave gave reluctant agreement. He had made himself a Covid-19 expert, spending time reading science articles online and keeping up with the evolving understanding of this terrible virus. His science background made it easy for him to read high level scientific studies with in depth understanding. He knew how dangerous this disease can be.
To protect us as well as possible, he studied ways to improve our home ventilation. We had a UVC anti-bacterial/anti-virus light installed in our furnace. For our dining room, he ordered a UVC Light Sanitizer with HEPA filter that covers several hundred square feet.
I visited our local health department web site to explore opportunities for testing. Calculating the time to get results, we made appointments at the site closest to us. DIL worked hard to rearrange her tutoring students to allow her to quarantine as much as possible after the test. She did have a couple of doctor’s appointments. I wasn’t concerned about those, knowing how careful medical offices were about safety protocols. My son got tested on the UNC campus, free to all students.
Having Thanksgiving together was looking good. The weather was even cooperating with a predicted high close to 70F. We could possibly eat on our screen porch, an even safer situation.
I turned my thoughts to the menu. Our local Weaver Street Market Coop had organic turkeys and all the trimmings available to order online for curbside pickup. Unfortunately, we waited one day too late to get the smaller turkey I had been eyeing. A sixteen pound turkey was what was left. Dave kindly encouraged me to order some prepared sides. We ordered their delicious-looking apple pecan stuffing, cranberry relish and a vegan pumpkin pie. I would cook the turkey and make gravy, prepare sweet potatoes and green beans. For rolls, we would use Sister Schubert’s Yeast Dinner Rolls from the freezer. We had a plan.
Meanwhile, the pandemic was surging all over the country. The Centers for Disease Control were issuing severe warnings against gathering with anyone outside your own household. These warnings accelerated as Thanksgiving approached. With my heart set on being together, I did my best to ignore them. My son didn’t.
Monday evening, he called me and spoke in a serious tone. He was deeply concerned an in-person gathering would be too risky. As I listened, my spirits sank. He spoke about the CDC’s continuing warnings, the rapidly climbing number of cases, our status as senior citizens at greater risk. His words became a pep talk. The vaccine is coming, our isolation is temporary, how terrible he would feel if either one of us contracted the virus. These last words penetrated. I acknowledged that if he felt responsible for us getting sick or worse, he would never get over it. I certainly didn’t want to catch the virus. I felt awe for this young man, my son, now in his thirties. Our roles had reversed. He was now advising his mother. Regretfully, I realized he was right. Dave, of course, was in 100% agreement. My son proposed we have a Zoom Thanksgiving.
We did. We set up a Zoom link and had the same group together that we’d hosted the year before. Dave’s children and grandchildren from Cleveland joined the four of us as did my sister from Roanoke. We opened Zoom on my laptop at 2 pm in the kitchen while completing the last of the preparations. Then we easily moved the laptop and the food to the screen porch where it was indeed warm enough to dine.
With Zoom open in front of us and the feast spread out before us, we filled our plates and ate. The four households talked back and forth for a couple hours as if we were seated around our dining room table. We discussed the dishes we’d made as we enjoyed them. We shared the news of what we’d been doing, how the kids liked being home schooled by their mother (they liked it), and many other things. We brought our cats to our screens to show off. This was our first Zoom meal. It was much better than I had expected. Holidays with Zoom are preferable to taking the risk of holidays in the ICU. I was converted. It was a very happy Thanksgiving. As the post-holiday Covid cases increase at an alarming rate, I take comfort in knowing that we made the choice to stay safe.