Here’s How To Endure Thanksgiving In 2020 No Matter How You’re Celebrating This Year

how to survive thanksgiving 2020

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As a semi-fat guy whose diet starts every Monday, I absolutely love the holiday season. Sure, spending time with the fam can be varying degrees of enjoyable, but it’s the ability to overeat without being judged that really keeps me going during the cold winter months. As soon as Halloween (the worst day of the year, but that’s a discussion for another day) comes and goes, it’s officially time for an all-out binge.

Not only is it #SweatshirtSZN, which allows you to get fatter without appearing fatter, you’ve also got Thanksgiving and Christmas to look forward to over the course of what might be the best month or so span the calendar has to offer. I guess you could make the argument for the middle of the summer, but with that said you’re probably going to have to take your shirt off at some point in time during the warmer months, which makes unadulterated gluttony a bit difficult.

Based on the Starbucks cups that signify the Official Start of the Holiday Season, it’s been three weeks since we first started gearing up for a period of the year that, as you know all too well by now, “iS gOiNg tO bE A LiTtLe DiFfEreNt.”

At this point, it feels pointless to dwell on “the new normal” people haven’t shut up about since March. I obviously feel for everyone impacted by the current situation and am taking it pretty seriously, but we also have to do what we can to keep living our lives in the most responsible manner possible.

As I said when I wrote about how to cope with the growing pains that we’ve dealt with over the course of this year’s college football season, I was devastated that this stupid disease prevented me from attending one of my favorite traditions—the Big East Tournament—but after going through the various stages of grief, I eventually accepted it was for the best. However, now that even more of my beloved seasonal traditions are being impacted, I’m pretty damn pissed.

Back when this all started, plenty of people hopped on the “Now It’s Serious” bandwagon to share the moment the gravity of our new reality started to set in.

As I said, I had that moment of clarity when college basketball was taken away from me, but nothing’s hit me as hard as the realization that this Thanksgiving is going to be the weirdest one most people have ever experienced. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best holiday; one filled with everything I love: football, drinking, guilt-free eating, and, of course, family (especially my dad, who reads everything I write online).

The day before the fourth Thursday in November is my Christmas Eve. I’m like a seven-year-old who spends all night tossing and turning, which usually results in a lack of sleep that leads to me waking up too late and walking downstairs to find my family expressing their displeasure as a result of my belated slumber making me miss the Turkey Trot. You see, my parents and siblings are smart enough to care about their health, so they do our town’s yearly run in an attempt to offset the food they plan on eating that day even though they never really consume that much, while I prefer to just embrace the unhealthy amount of calories I’ll be subjecting my body to.

As far as I’m concerned, whoever created the computer simulation we probably live in gave us Thanksgiving as a “Eat Whatever The Hell You Want” card and it honestly pains me that my family doesn’t take full advantage. They’ll choose to have that extra piece of pie but make sure to let everyone know “they’re being bad,” and frankly, it’s embarrassing. If your stomach is given a hall pass, you might as well use it.

Whenever I do end up waking up, I come hot out of the gate to kick off an absolute bender that starts with me downing an extra-large coffee and finishes when I inevitably pass out due to a combination of tryptophan and alcohol.

For breakfast, I’ll usually house some cinnamon rolls and an egg and cheese sandwich with bacon and Taylor Ham (I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the term “pork roll,” which should tell you what part of New Jersey I’m from). If it was a random Thursday, my mom would probably urge me to see a dietician, but because it’s Thanksgiving, no one can say a single word. Are they judging me? Absolutely, but the same can be said for what I eat on most days of the year, so this particular instance feels less harsh.

Once I’ve kickstarted my stomach, we head to the house where we’ve celebrated the holiday with our extended family every single year since I was born. When we were younger, my cousins and I would always play some tackle football regardless of the weather, and there was nothing like getting muddied up and having a few bruises to show off to your friends the next day to prove how tough you are.

Once we discovered beer, that all went out the window and we downgraded to a casual game of catch, but it’s always been a good time.

Unfortunately, this will not be the case with 2020, as Thanksgiving is following in the footsteps of the likes of Ellen Degeneres, Chris D’elia, and J.K. Rowling by falling victim to the Cancel Culture the resulted in my aunt deciding to call off this year’s celebration, ripping my heart out of me like the dude in Temple of Doom in the process.

It’s not like I don’t understand why she did it. Hosting dozens of people at your house is a nightmare during a normal year, but when you add the risk of killing Grandpa because you breathed in his vicinity, opting to forgo things is pretty understandable. As a result, I’ll be spending Thanksgiving in my childhood home for the first time surrounded by my immediate family almost immediately after moving to a new apartment after spending the majority of 2020 hunkered down with them.

Now, some people out there may not feel the same way about Thanksgiving as I do, as there are plenty of horror stories out there about the day being ruined over political arguments or family feuds (the hatred kind, not the Steve Harvey kind).

Our clan, on the other hand, does this weird thing where—get this—we try to understand the fact that different people have different opinions and then move on. Sure, there might be some fairly spirited debates now and then, but chucking a handful of mashed potatoes at someone because they disagree with me about a particular topic seems like overkill. This year, I highly suggest you try to avoid conflict the same way you’ve probably attempted to avoid human contact and the outside world to prevent a scene like this one.

Now, the consensus among most experts is that the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is staying home, which can be tough to process when you consider the day might be the only time you see certain people on an annual basis. Dr. Anthony Fauci is one of those advising against in-person gatherings and he seems like a guy who knows his shit, although part of me thinks he’s just using it as an excuse to avoid tossing the pigskin around so he’s not subjected to any more throwing-related embarrassment.

The government hasn’t gone as far as to ban Thanksgiving celebrations entirely, but there are still certain places that are cracking down on them pretty hard. For example, California issued a list of official mandates for people in the state who must adhere to rules including:

  • Gatherings that include more than 3 households are prohibited.
  • Anyone with any COVID-19-like symptoms must stay home and not come into contact with anyone outside their household.
  • Seating must provide at least 6 feet of distance (in all directions—front-to-back and side-to-side) between different households.
  • All people who are singing or chanting should wear a face covering at all times while singing or chanting, including anyone who is leading a song or chant. People who are singing or chanting are strongly encouraged to do so quietly (at or below the volume of a normal speaking voice).

That’s right; if you want to partake in the widely-celebrated tradition of belting out Adam Sandler’s “Thanksgiving Song” at the top of your lungs together at the dinner table, you have to do so below 60 decibels. I’m not looking to get too political here, but that just seems outrageous.

So what do we do now? How do we move on? What will Thanksgiving look like this year? Fret not, my friends, because I’ve taken the time to put together a list of my own to help you navigate the holiday regardless of how you’re handling it.

It seems like FaceTime and Zoom are going to be a big hit this year, which is unfortunate when you consider I try to avoid video calls at all costs because they accentuate my double chin. Now you want me to say “Hi” to my grandmother after devouring an entire tube of biscuits even though she doesn’t know how to turn her phone’s camera around and I’ll ultimately be having a conversation with her carpet? Thanks but no thanks.

However, if your family does decide to go this route, there are a few things to keep in mind.

1. For the sake of everyone involved, keep it as short as possible.

2. Don’t do it while you’re eating. There’s no need to make everyone sit there awkwardly as each person shares what they’re thankful for. If you have parents who want to turn the meal into a work-from-home brainstorming session, I highly suggest Googling “legal emancipation.”

3. Say whatever the hell you want to say. This is the year to finally let it all out. I know I said it’s best to just agree to disagree and move on, but with the possibility of physical altercations out of the equation, there’s never been a better time to not hold back. You are always one press of a red button away from stopping the conversation, so if you find yourself engaged with a relative-turned-blood rival, hit them with your best mic drop and end the call.

There may be some fallout in the short term, but I think it’s for the best in the grand scheme of things. Even the most “normal” families have something that’s always brewing under the surface, whether it’s the fact that a certain person doesn’t do enough to help clean up after the meal or that Aunt Maura’s “Famous Apple Pie” is fucking awful. If it ends up backfiring, then feel free to fire an angry tweet my way, but I think it’ll work out in the end.

4. Have fun with it. I personally pride myself on my ability to figure out ways to rile other people up and proceed to watch in amusement from the sidelines and a video chat is a fantastic opportunity to do that. You want to avoid getting into it with anyone you’re physically celebrating with, but figuring out a way to get your aunts to throw virtual, passive-aggressive jabs at each other has the potential to be more entertaining than any NFL game on the slate this year.

Thanks to the current political climate, there is a plethora of topics and conspiracy theories you can bring up if you’re looking for a catalyst. You shouldn’t actually share your personal opinion on anything; just casually insert a question concerning voter fraud or the merits of wearing a mask and sit back to watch the mayhem that will probably ensue.

Now, if you’ve made the decision to stick it to the man and refuse to let a pesky pandemic get in the way of your annual sit-down, A) I envy you and B) there are some things you’re going to need to be prepared for.

As comedian Geno Bisconte said earlier this year, “COVID is the flu with a better publicist.” There are people who are understandably petrified of it but will still decide to make the trek to another household for some reason, so you’re going to have to read the room and figure out which people occupying it would prefer you to stay away from them. Those who are older or more at risk will probably be upfront about how comfortable they are about certain things, and on the plus side, you might finally have an excuse to avoid hugging your chain-smoking aunt with asthma not have your clothing reek of cigarette smoke for the rest of the day.

There’s also a very good chance that many people willingly subjecting themselves to a large gathering right now are going to Have Some Thoughts about the state of the world, and when you consider most people have been relying on social media, various news channels, and YouTube’s slightly controversial algorithm to distract themselves this year, there’s no way of knowing just how off the rails things might go.

Again, I’m not going to get into who or what I think is right or wrong because we’ve reached a point where it’s essentially impossible to get someone to reconsider whatever worldview they’ve constructed for themselves. People across the political spectrum have been bombarded with propaganda and found comfort in the bubbles they tend to inhabit and will do everything in their power to prevent them from popping. As I mentioned, there are plenty of controversial issues capable of sparking some particularly fiery exchanges, but if things start to spiral out of control when someone brings up climate change or racial tensions, you can always just mention Jeffery Epstein’s alleged suicide and steer the exchange in a more enjoyable direction.

The factors that have made 2020 as stressful as it is have put everyone on edge, meaning what’s usually a day full of family, fun, and football has the potential to devolve into the personification of a Reddit threat about politics, especially when you consider real, actual human interaction is at a premium and people will pounce at the opportunity to say basically anything to anyone who can listen to them in person. Is Thanksgiving dinner the best time to bring up the idea that Bill Gates engineered COVID-19 as an excuse to implant people with microchips via vaccinations? No, but there’s a good possibility someone will decide to broach the topic anyway, so you’re going to want to brace yourself.

While no true hypochondriac would opt to attend a “real” Thanksgiving this year, there will probably be some people who still decide to take precautions, whether it’s wearing a mask while inside or wearing gloves while using shared utensils to fill up their plate. I mean, I can’t necessarily blame them, but I look at them the same way I do at dudes who bet $10 on a heavy favorite in the hopes of netting $1.75 if they win. If you’re going to gamble, I feel like you might as well throw caution to the wind. Life is about risks, baby! If you’re that paranoid, you probably shouldn’t be there in the first place.

Chatting about “how crazy things are” right now has arguably overtaken the weather when it comes to the go-to topic for small talk, but there’s really no other way to put it. We’ve entered some weird times and that hasn’t changed now that we’ve entered the best time of the year. Basically all of the stuff I’ve said here will end up applying to Christmas as well, and while I wish I could magically make COVID go away, I can’t; the least I can do is prepare you for what’s to come.

With that said, there’s still one thing that hasn’t changed when it comes to making the holidays more delightful: drinking copious amounts of booze, so regardless of how things play out, at least we’ve still got that going for us.