By Nick Baldry
It is post-Thanksgiving, and while we have heard over and over how this holiday has been far from normal, some things remain remarkably familiar. The following is a list of traditions and common experiences that punctuate many Thanksgivings. Despite the global pandemic, many households across the country have at least seen a variation of these scenes that mark any holiday season.
Leftovers – Many households are reaching the stage where even the most versatile cook is running thin on ideas as to how to use up the remaining turkey leftovers. It is a failure of culinary imagination that strikes every year. This is made starker if, like in my household, the bird purchased was the same weight as a medium size dog even though we had far fewer people around our Thanksgiving table than usual. Our large Tupperware box of leftover meat and the shrink-wrapped bowl of the less popular vegetables that somehow survived the weekend’s grazing are the final reminders of our meal. Tonight’s experimental turkey curry is a follow-up to so many variants on otherwise non-turkey-oriented classics that will be received with at best indifference from all family members.
Football – Thanks to social distancing restrictions, stadiums were not filled to capacity this year, but millions of Americans still sat for hours on end watching multi-millionaires run around a bit. Nothing says Thanksgiving more than consuming a week’s worth of calories and then sitting still for hours watching other people burn them off. The truly adventurous may well have ventured into the back yard for a family game of flag football to work up an appetite, but in my experience, these are rarely played to completion. It is hard to finish a game when your three-year-old tight end has just burst into tears because daddy won’t let him have the ball. A scene only ever mirrored in the professional game if, like me, you support Washington.
That racist uncle everyone has – You know the one. You only see him once a year for good reason and every family has their own version of him. Of course he couldn’t come to your house this time due to COVID (which he thinks is a hoax anyway), but on the one day this year we aren’t forced to be in Zoom meetings for work, we instead had a family Zoom call “so we can be together, even when we are apart.” So, uncle whatever his name is still got to tell everyone in the family which minority is lazy/criminal/a drain on society in general. At least this year you had the option to turn the volume down on him once it became apparent that no amount of reason was going to stop him. Having this option at least suggests that 2020 is not all bad!
Black Friday – I will confess I have never seen the appeal of doing this in person. This year, stores were unable to open as they have in the past, so we were spared the annual spectacle of news footage from a Best Buy in St Louis where shoppers came to blows over the latest iWatch or a big screen TV. Instead America’s retail marathon has been largely online. This has been my preferred way to shop for deals for years. No waiting in line overnight. No shoving over other shoppers in the crush to squeeze through the shop door as if that smartphone you have your eye on is the last one on earth. Instead you just open your laptop, input your credit card details and just a few short days later a delivery driver will deposit a box at your front door containing expensive earphones you don’t need, a new sweater that doesn’t suit you and a USB coffee mug warmer that you cannot think of an earthly reason why you ordered it in the first place, even at 80% off.
Generosity – Sure this holiday is largely about consumption, but giving and generosity are absolute bastions of Thanksgiving and the holidays in general. People give food to the less fortunate, volunteer in droves and donate money in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Americans may be thankful for what they have, but there is always a recognition that there are others in need. One of the biggest examples of that is Giving Tuesday. Last year over $400 million was donated one Giving Tuesday, and predictions are that despite everything 2020 has thrown at us, $605 million will be given this year. Even in the context of the economic and health related disaster this country has undergone, 62% of respondents to a survey reported in Forbes magazine said they planned to give this time around, with 34% of respondents saying they would give more than they did last year.
That generosity of spirit is what Thanksgiving and the holiday season are really all about. As you are planning your giving, you cannot go wrong with Wells Bring Hope. The money you give goes to drilling wells in communities that desperately need access to clean water. This life saving intervention is accompanied by improved sanitation, hygiene, drip farming, well maintenance and training for women to start their own small businesses. This holiday season, by donating to Wells Bring Hope, you are giving more than money; you are giving the gift of life to some of the most neglected communities on the planet. In this year of change, that is a tradition worth preserving.