Cancel Thanksgiving? Can there be anything more un-American than that? Other than Election Day or mail delivery, I cannot think of anything more American than Thanksgiving Day.
However, the suggestion has been made that for national safety reasons, we may have to “bite the bullet” and forego the traditional holiday this year. It is only a suggestion at this point.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious diseases expert, announced that his children will not be visiting him this year for the November holiday. Dr. Fauci cited his age, 79, putting him in high risk category as the number one reason he is not subjecting himself to close family interaction next month. If the top American diseases guy is afraid of contracting the virus during a family holiday, should the rest of the country act like lemmings and follow suit?
While acknowledging the sacredness of Thanksgiving, Dr. Fauci emphasized the risk the holiday posed saying “Given the fluid and dynamic nature of what’s going on right now in the spread and the uptick of infections, I think people should be very careful and prudent about social gatherings, particularly when members of the family might be at risk because of their age or underlying condition.”
Dr. Fauci’s commendation is supported by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who stated, “that even small gatherings are becoming a source of infection nationwide.” As of Thursday, the country has realized nearly 217,000 COVID-19 related deaths and more than 7.9 million positive tests.
Positive tests are on the incline in 37 states with cooler weather on the way. What does America do? The annual holiday can be the onetime per year some family may get together. Even before the pandemic, for some it may even be the last time some relatives would be alive to celebrate. Is the risk of potentially contracting the disease enough to forego seeing an elderly relative one last time? Do we deny an elderly relative the chance to see the latest family addition who was born since the last family Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving has never been cancelled. However, its date has been changed for economic health reasons. In 1939, Thanksgiving was scheduled to fall on the last day of November. That meant there would be one less week for retail shopping or the Christmas shopping season. The country was still in recovery mode from the Great Depression. President Franklin Roosevelt moved the holiday that year one week earlier to prevent any harm to the economic recovery.
Two years later, 1941, the fourth Thursday of November became the official Thanksgiving holiday.
Do we forego seeing relatives for Thanksgiving yet keep the post-Thanksgiving shopping tradition alive? Could we justify being too afraid to sit near elderly relatives while casting all fears aside to mingle with hundreds of shoppers? Cancel Thanksgiving but keep the malls open? Fear family but not strangers? Cancel mealtime but not deal time?
As of now, it is just a suggestion to sacrifice national tradition for national safety. A lot could change in the next six weeks. One being a presidential election. Another being the effect the weather may play on the way the virus is transmitted.
Speaking of the virus, it was once said that, “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” It sure would be nice if that one day occurred before Thanksgiving.
As divided as we are politically, we are united in the emotional and spiritual fatigue the virus has held us since early spring. We are sick of it. We need that miracle. And day now will do.
In the meantime, we can only heed the advice to wear face coverings, wash hands often and practice social distancing.
With that in mind, throwing biscuits 6 feet across the dining room table may no longer be considered bad manners.