Giving Thanks This Odd Thanksgiving

Every Thanksgiving my mom, Ruth Kennedy, makes dinner for her family. This is true of plenty of moms.

But my mom has 9 kids, most of us have significant others, a few of us have kids. There’s also my dad of course. Then there’s my in-laws who come too along with my aunt, uncle, and 3 cousins plus their significant others and kids. Plus if any of us discovers that a friend is doing nothing for Thanksgiving we force them to join us too –this has never resulted in fewer than 5 additional people.

We have a tradition where we say a prayer before eating and at the end we sing-shout as loudly as possible: “WE REALLY WANNA THANK YOU LORD!”.

We do a Hoopla – where after dinner (yes, after we’re all stuffed) everyone has to make at least 1 basket in the basketball hoop before going back inside (no matter the weather) followed by very competitive knock-out games where the ultimate winner gets bragging rights for the whole year.

The house is busy and loud, full of multiple conversations, plates of food, love, friendships and loads of stories and laughter. It is a perfect gathering. It is time well spent.

But this year, with 2020 being as it is, the plans have changed the tradition. But we roll with the punches. We adapt.

My mom is still making Thanksgiving dinner for us. But instead of sitting around several tables (or wherever we find a place to fit) we’ll stay outside -6-feet apart and masked- and pick-up a To-Go container of food. My mom has taken our special requests and has tailor-made our containers based on our food preferences.

Before we leave we’ll each briefly head to the backyard and shoot 10 foul shots. My parents will disinfect the ball between families. They will keep track of how well everyone does and Hoopla honors will go to the one who makes the most. (We are a *bit* of a competitive family so this will still be intense even if we aren’t there to cheer and jeer each other on in person.)

We’ll say Goodbye. We’ll head home to our separate houses. The next sibling+family will show up at my parent’s house and repeat the process.

So yes, this year Thanksgiving will be a bit different. It will involve a lot less conversation. A lot less happy loudness. A lot less face-to-face togetherness.

But one thing that won’t change? It will still be filled with so much love. ❤️

—May you have a Happy Thanksgiving! Please stay safe.—

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