Many people have asked me what I am doing for Thanksgiving. “Are you having a traditional dinner with your family?” I love my family. I love my family so much that this year I am choosing not to spend Thanksgiving with them. It was a difficult, but necessary and thoughtful decision.
Like most Cabo Verdean and Portuguese people, extended family gatherings are vital to me. Thanksgiving has become part of my identity as a grown woman. I normally go all out to host my entire extended family and some close friends for Thanksgiving. I love it! I spend two days preparing a four-course meal from scratch that I planned for weeks. Two years ago, I was in my third trimester of pregnancy and yet I managed to add another course to my yearly Thanksgiving meal extravaganza. So why not do it again this year and bring so much needed joy into our hearts?
This year there is a deadly pandemic. The COVID-19 statistics in the United States should frighten all of us. More than one-quarter of a million people have died from COVID-19. This number will soon surpass the number of Cabo Verdeans in the U.S. This November 20th, 204, 163 people were diagnosed with COVID-19, which is more than the number of Portuguese nationals living in this country. This exponential rise in COVID-19 infection is due in great part to family gatherings. We tend to lower our guards around family. We want to be around the holidays. But, the reality is that the risk of infection increases when people of different households get together, even in small numbers.
“But doctor, could you and your family have done a COVID-19 test and be able to safely have Thanksgiving together?” you ask. A negative test means that you were probably not infected with COVID-19 when the test was administered. It does not guarantee that it is safe for you to socialize with those who live outside of your home. Like you, I am tired of COVID. I would love to return to “normal.” I considered all possible options to celebrate this Thanksgiving. It has been a long year and I miss my family. Then, I thought about the thousands of families who are missing an important person this holiday season after losing them to COVID-19. This Thanksgiving, perhaps more than any other before, I am thankful for my family’s health. Instead of a four- or five-course meal in my home, I am preparing a special dish to deliver to each of them with a note that says, “I love you. I am thankful for you.”
May you have a happy Thanksgiving and a healthy holiday season.
The information contained in this article is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.