Thanksgiving is right around the corner, but many of your friends and relatives aren’t. So can we expect traditional family dinners with relatives from near and far in most American homes this year?
Afraid not. Nearly every state now "meets the criteria for the travel advisory," according to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, which means travelers to New York from those states must quarantine for 14 days.
Ready to put people up for two weeks? Me neither.
New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania escape the list because "there’s no practical way" to quarantine New York from them, says the governor. However, Cuomo recently discouraged "nonessential" travel from those three states as well.
Is going to grandma’s for Thanksgiving, or inviting her to your house, "essential travel"? Where do you draw the line?
Many New Yorkers have parents who have retired to Florida. Going to visit them for the holiday won’t be an issue, since Florida has absolutely no restrictive rules on travel and no quarantines in place. Meanwhile, the Sunshine State’s COVID-19 rate is shooting through the roof. Go figure.
Maybe you can just fly them here. But what about the quarantine?
In 2019, the Transportation Security Administration listed the Sunday after Thanksgiving as the most heavily traveled day in the history of the agency. Rest assured that record won’t be broken this year.
In 2020, most homes will host immediate family only for Thanksgiving. Safety first!
Certainly those faraway friends and relatives will be missed. But there are ways to make their absence a bit less painful.
Perhaps we can follow the example of 2020 baseball and football and set blowup cardboard photos of these missing guests around the Thanksgiving table? We can even have them record typical messages and Thanksgiving chatter, such as, "Don’t hog the drumsticks!", "A toast to the cook!" or "Don’t talk politics!"
For those freaked out about being inside for hours, consider dining outside, perhaps in a large heated teepee to salute the first Thanksgiving, easing worries and lifting spirits.
Or maybe not. But whatever way we chose to celebrate this most intimate of Thanksgivings, we will give thanks for the simple blessings of full plates, full hearts, and yes, the inventors of FaceTime, Skype and Zoom.
Playwright Mike Vogel is the author of "New York Attitude: A lifetime New Yorker Defends his City With Humor and Heart."