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Preparing for the Uncertain Holidays

November 29, 2020

Another Way for week of November 20, 2020

Preparing for the Uncertain Holidays

I’d been wanting to do it for weeks: clean the top of my kitchen cupboards where I display some of my favorite things. These are plates and dishes and trays I seldom use in day to day cooking. They highlight the blues and yellows of our kitchen, and some of them are antiques passed down from grandmothers or aunts and cousins. The items tend to collect grease and dust up there, especially those sitting closest to my stove. I try to wash them all once or twice a year, and always before the holidays.

None of us are sure yet what kinds of holidays we’ll have given the virus hiding out everywhere. So I was a bit melancholy while cleaning.

I usually line the surface with newspaper to save some scrubbing and it is always something of a gas to see the news from a year ago.

This year, I was somewhat surprised that those newspapers were from 2018. That means even though I washed the objects on the top, I had skipped the chore of changing my newspaper liners in 2019. The news from two years ago reminded me of how unimaginable our 2020 has been, all around the world. It also made me wonder what we’ll be experiencing a year from now.

Sadness and family stress and disagreements about what is safe or not safe abound in these uncertain times. Families have not only lost loved ones, they have had to stress and discuss and disagree about how to honor their deceased family members. I know one family that split down the middle on whether it was safe for them to all gather in another state to bury ashes, which they had been delaying for over eight months. The husband deeply desired to have a meaningful burial and move on, while others wanted to wait indefinitely. I grieved for them afresh, and not just the passing of their dear wife, mother, and grandmother.

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday of many here in the U.S. because you just get together to cook, eat, catch up, and maybe play football (or watch it). I remember the year I missed Thanksgiving most acutely. It was 1973 when I studying in Spain for a year, and learned that Thanksgiving is not a thing in that country. Canada of course celebrates theirs the second Monday in October. A few other countries, celebrate harvest time in November, notably Brazil, Philippines, Netherlands and some others.  

My attempt at making a turkey centerpiece at last minute.

I remember the year my husband and I decided that driving to Indiana for a short Thanksgiving weekend with my family was no longer worth it, given the horrible traffic that accompanies the holiday, at least in years past. That year we were driving from Indiana to Virginia on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and traffic was moving about 20-30 miles per hour (the toll road was also way cheaper back then). The speed was not because of an accident, but just the clog of traffic. We got off the toll road and went much faster on smaller highways to arrive safely home. But we told my mother and father that we would not plan to drive to Indiana for Thanksgiving after that, and generally made it for Christmas celebrations.

What I want to say to all families and to my own: The important thing is not whether you gather or how many are able to make it, but whether we all stay safe in anticipation of years ahead. Current spikes in illness and deaths do not sound encouraging, although reports on coming vaccines bring us all hope for the future.

I was happy when I finished cleaning my upper shelf decorative items: they look so pretty and it always feels good to have that chore done. Meanwhile, I will hold my family dear in my heart. For those who didn’t or couldn’t go home, we’ll look for better times in 2021 and beyond, the good Lord willing and the spikes don’t rise (to twist an old saying).


What do you or did you enjoy most about Thanksgiving?

Comment here or send to, or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. Our Thanksgiving was a twosome – a 13-pound bird at home in the dining room instead of 22-pounder at my daughter’s house with dozens of relatives. That’s okay for this year because I’d rather be safe than sorry. Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday because it’s about gratitude, not gift-giving and parties, which are fine but require effort.

    Your upper kitchen shelf story is amusing. I’ve cleaned ours off when we moved in and then again when I added ceramic jugs with colored bulbs. “It’s dirty up here,” Cliff said a few months ago when he added recessed lighting, but I don’t think he cleaned up there. Our ceilings soar high, and I don’t want to risk falling, so maybe in the new year . . .

    Moderna and Pfizer are coming out with vaccines sometime in December, just around the corner. However, there will be a protocol for injections: health-care workers first; then maybe the elderly. We’ll see.

    Stay safe and keep writing, Melodie!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Marian. It is starting to look like we may be alone at Christmas, but we’ll connect somehow. It doesn’t help that our current internet usage doesn’t allow for lots of facetime and Zoom stuff. I had a Presbytery Zoom meeting in mid November with 123 participants all having their little zoom windows which also apparently really eats up bandwidth and gigabytes.

    Anyway, we did have a beautiful Thanksgiving with just the one family which I think I mentioned earlier. And Facetime sessions with the other two groupings.

    Yes, I try to be very careful climbing up on the counter. Not sure how many more years I should do that. You may have a higher ceiling than our great room. Have a good week!

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