Balancing Thanksgiving Dinner with COVID and Food Allergies

Balancing Thanksgiving Dinner with COVID and Food Allergies

Holidays are often centered around food-related traditions. Thanksgiving may mean watching the giant balloons of the Macy’s parade or tossing around a football while the fallen leaves crackle under your feet. It probably comes with a whole slew of food-related traditions, from the turkey to the pumpkin pie. Odds are, it also includes a regular guest list of family and friends settled in around your table to share the meal. Or rather, it did. 

Food allergy families are already well-versed in adapting recipes for their allergy-friendly table and creating non-food traditions. Thanksgiving during a pandemic, however, adds an entirely new twist to how we’ll celebrate. The good news is this: you’re a pro at adapting holiday norms to accommodate health needs. It’s time to put those “adapt to survive” food allergy family skills to use again and create a Thanksgiving to be grateful for!

Think Small

Crowded dinner tables may be your non-2020 norm, but this Thanksgiving it’s better to skip the big get-togethers in favor of smaller gatherings. You may opt to stay home this year and observe the day with just your household, or perhaps you have plans to safely gather with a smaller group. Refer to specific guidelines and suggestions from the CDC and your state to help you make the right choice for your family (immediate and extended).

Recipe Exchange

Maybe your family is still eating the same sweet potato casserole your great-great-great-Aunt June introduced to the table generations ago. Compile a list of the recipes that fill your table most years and share them with the folks that usually grace your table so you can all continue to enjoy those familiar (and allergy safe) recipes even if you’re not sitting at the same table. There’s something neat about knowing you’re sharing a meal even if you’re not in the same space. 

Make it Virtual

You’re probably more savvy with video conferencing apps than you ever imagined you’d be. Put those boxes of talking heads to good holiday use. Sit a screen at one end of your family table and conference in those family members that can’t join you in person this year. Sit down to those family recipes you shared ahead of time and share the meal virtually. It won’t be the same as being together in person, sure, but you’ll still be able to enjoy the familiar foods and share conversation with those you love. Start the meal by expressing your gratitude for the people that are joining you and for the tech that enables the call.

Bundle Up 

Depending on where you live, mid-November could be cold and brisk. Pull out your coat, grab your favorite hat and gloves, and build yourself a fire outside. Hot drinks and warm pie by the fire pit could be a wonderful new tradition and it may open up the possibility of hosting a small number of guests to sit (socially-distanced) out back with you. 

Bring a Meal

There will be vulnerable members of our communities that will spend this Thanksgiving isolated in their own homes. Consider preparing a plate of your family’s holiday favorites to share with someone who will be alone this year. Include a note telling this person why you appreciate them. Call ahead of time to arrange a contact-less delivery and to spend some time connecting with your friend. 

Focus on the Gratitude

Let’s face it, 2020 has been a long, weird, difficult year. It would be easy to say we’re just in this for the food, but the truth of it is that there’s still plenty to be thankful for. This year, more than ever, it’s important that you carve out time to focus on your gratitude and celebrate the things that make your heart sing. 

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