How Would You Spend Your Last Thanksgiving?

If safety requires us to indefinitely forfeit the most valuable parts of our lives, what exactly are we trying to save?

“Grandpa’s Arms” by Johnny Cohen

This will be the final Thanksgiving for 2.8 million (the annual all-cause death toll) of our fellow Americans. It could be my last — or yours. That likelihood is significantly higher for our elderly loved ones, too many of whom will not have seen or hugged their family in nine months.

…some of whom don’t understand why.

The hard truth is that we do not know who will be around for Thanksgiving next November. What we do have is right now — this moment — today.

We aren’t promised one second more.

We’ve all seen some version of the CDC’s Thanksgiving recommendations and California Governor, Gavin Newsom’s, Thanksgiving ‘rules’ by now. Twitter is abuzz with our newly-christened ‘expert’ class pontificating on ‘safety’ (and morality), asserting that the ‘right’ thing to do is to physically distance from one’s family this year.

We’ve already forgone countless once-in-a-lifetime events to mitigate a newly-minted definition of risk which takes only one variable into account.

And have neglected to acknowledge that many of our seniors — the most vulnerable among us — don’t even want that kind of ‘safety’ because it costs precious moments with their families.

They already achieved quantity in life. What most of them want more than anything is quality.

Thanksgiving presents an opportunity to recapture some semblance of our humanity and remind us why we want so badly to live.

People who need hugs from their families should be able to get them. That’s not a frivolous or selfish desire to be dismissed or diminished. For many, it has become a matter of life and death.

There’s only one ‘unsafe’ version of Thanksgiving for me and that’s failing to be present with my family, allowing weaponized shame and performative restrictions to keep us apart.

God forbid one of us isn’t sitting at that table next year, I can’t imagine grappling with that regret.

And if one (or all) of us get COVID, so be it.

We will keep calm and carry on. For our family, risk is relative and safety is never guaranteed. Those facts have certainly never stopped us from living true to our values, one of which is ‘family first’.

And we’re better for it.

And if, despite the overwhelmingly favorable odds, lightning strikes and COVID takes one or more of us from the rest, we still won’t regret that day for a second.

Because if “safety” requires us to indefinitely forfeit the most valuable parts of our lives, what exactly are we trying to save?

Mama, writer, lover, fighter — I wear my heart on my sleeve because my pants pockets are too small.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store