Last year when COVID-19 kept many from celebrating with family and friends, Ruth E. Thaler-Carter accepted an invitation to share Thanksgiving with neighbors in a condo upstairs.
“It was really nice to be included, but it wasn’t nearly the same thing as a family gathering,” says Thaler-Carter, 68, a freelance writer and editor in St. Louis. Now that she's vaccinated, this year will be much different. Her youngest brother is flying into St. Louis from Israel with his wife and younger daughter. The four of them will travel to New Mexico to spend Thanksgiving with another brother and family of all ages.
The reunion will be extra special because Thaler-Carter will finally meet her 18-month-old grandniece, who is thriving despite being born with a heart condition. “From the photos that I've seen, she’s a very healthy, happy little thing. And to be able to see her and celebrate the fact that she’s fine just adds to the whole emotional impact of the reunion,” she sats. “It promises to be a wonderful get-together.”
Now that nearly 60 percent of the American population has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, many families are gearing up for a long-overdue holiday season together, eager to create new memories.
“There's this collective sigh of relief that someone is telling them to do what humans do best — connect physically with another person in the room,” says Jennifer M. Thompson, a licensed clinical social worker in Rochester, New York. “Not everybody, but more people typically feel comfortable exchanging energy in live spaces.”
‘I just miss that spontaneity’
For Fred Mandell, a 79-year-old leadership development consultant in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, the Thanksgiving holiday last year consisted of an on-and-off 90-minute Zoom session with relatives.
This Turkey Day, he and his wife, Karen, are driving to Pittsford, New York, to be with their oldest daughter and her two children. Their other daughter, Becky, and Becky's husband are also driving from Massachusetts to Pittsford with their two kids. Mandell’s sister-in-law and her wife are also joining them.
“It will be three generations — the entire contingent,” says Mandell, who is looking forward to the “physical hugs, warmth and smells of the holiday” that a virtual Thanksgiving couldn't deliver.