I’m a person who lives for our big Thanksgiving get-togethers. I dream of them. Arlene and I, along with the rest of our family, plan the details months ahead. My beautiful and crazy sisters and husbands fly in days in advance and the party is usually in full swing by Tuesday evening.
Our family stretches from Los Angeles to Tampa and from North Carolina to Boston to Chicago. Getting our tribe together on Thanksgiving is usually the only time of the year when we can assemble everyone under one roof.
Our wild Thanksgiving traditions go back decades. We have a private family Facebook page where we post pictures, talk food, laugh, and share details of past holidays and those to come. We have a family bake-off and a “Country Karaoke” night. The “Brickhouse Sisters” (Arlene and my sisters, Debra “Mimi” and Kim “Kiki”) perform. To say we have a blast would be an understatement.
Then comes 2020 and our collective holiday hearts are broken. What should we do? What can we do? What are the risks?
The jury’s still out but the prospects of our traditional family Thanksgiving are at risk. And yes, I’m selfishly talking about “our” Thanksgiving, but this is a discussion playing across our nation as the holiday moves closer and decisions must be made.
And who should be making these decisions?
There are the constitutionalists among us who say, “It’s a family decision that should be made personally by ‘We the People’ and by family.” I fall firmly within this group.
There’s those who believe because of the national and global risks, and implications of this virus, that the decision should be made by government leaders ... governors and mayors ... and we should be compelled to comply regardless of our own desires and decisions.
My oldest son, while talking to a long-time close friend, casually mentioned that he may take the risk and travel from LA home for the holiday. His friend replied, “Then I hope you and your family will be denied a hospital bed as you infect each other and put us all at risk.”
Really? How judgmental and smug. I guess it’s no longer an election that divides us but now whether we dine alone in our homes with family.
I’m confident that each of our family members will make the right decision for themselves and their immediate families. No judgment. I don’t believe this is a decision for a well-meaning but over-reaching government that seems to be using this crisis as a power grab. Are there no decisions left for we the people? Are we believed to be totally helpless and incapable of making this decision on our own?
Arlene and I are not incapable of weighing the facts and assessing the risks. We’ll make the right decision for us. I wear a mask, not because the government tells me to do so. I do it because to me it makes sense. I social distance, wash my hands and avoid touching my face for the same reasons. We shelter in place as we feel necessary. I appreciate hearing the facts and I support our government in fighting this pandemic, but not when they begin inserting themselves at my family dinner table. I didn’t invite them.
We’ll make our holiday plans for us. Yes, we’ll consider every word our government says and take it into sincere consideration, but the talk of government trying to limit or ban private Thanksgiving family dinners is an overreach of the worse sort and not a government option granted by our constitution. Every state is different, and many are respecting family decisions, while a growing number are not.
The decision is ours.
Many will agree, while others will not. I’ll respect your views and you should respect ours.
There must be a line drawn somewhere in government overreach. I draw mine at my front porch.
With all that said ... and since no one may taste it this year but those who decide to attend ... may I tell you about my turkey?
I brine the turkey for 12-plus hours in a mixture of orange juice, apple-cranberry juice, Old Bay seasoning and Kosher salt. Of course, I add ice to keep it chilled.
Once the brining is finished, I inject every part of the bird with a mixture of melted butter, Old Bay, and apple juice. I stuff it with pineapple and orange slices. I’ve fried it or smoked it in the past but tired of spending time outside in the cold, so now I bake it. Once finished, the brining and stuffing with fruit also makes an incredible gravy.
I trust you’ll make wise decisions about your family Thanksgiving holiday. It’s your decision and I hope you will not allow any governmental body to make this decision for you.
Gary W. Moore is a freelance columnist, speaker, and author of three books including the award-winning, critically acclaimed, “Playing with the Enemy.” Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryWMoore721 and at www.garywmoore.com