The holidays won’t be the same this year. The gloriously warm summer weather made everything seem almost normal in this year of Covid – we were able to gather one-on-one or in small groups outside, we ventured into stores with masks on, hands spritzed with sanitizer. As the cold weather and the holidays approach, I am thinking about how we will celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. Will we bundle up and have Thanksgiving dinner outside as the pilgrims did – socially distanced or dining one small group of family members at a time? Will we each cook Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners at our respective homes and Zoom with family and friends throughout the day?

I imagine a progressive Zoom. We start in the morning – or the night before, as that is when my mother begins to prepare our family’s stuffing as only she can. We all join in the Zoom as mom shows us, step by step, how to prepare the stuffing ourselves. My brother-in-law then joins in on how to cook the turkey and mix pre- and post-prandial cocktails. I’ll show how to make my cranberry sauce with cinnamon and port wine, and I’ll brandish a bottle of red and a bottle of white wine that will pair well with turkey.

The camera will then focus on my sister and nieces, who will take the reins for the appetizers and vegetables, while a nephew will have the stage for the grand finale – desserts. And then, those who have tryptophan-induced sleepiness will retire to their respective sofas and half-watch football games while others of us will walk around our neighborhoods. It will be alright; it’s one year. One Thanksgiving. That’s what we’ll tell ourselves. And the following morning none of us will be getting up before the sun to shop Black Friday sales in stores. That’s not my scene anyway – I stay away, preferring instead to extend the long weekend in the company of family and friends.

If gathering is not possible, I’ll Zoom with friends I didn’t see on Thanksgiving, and then maybe I will allow myself to be seduced by online Black Friday sales, but only if those sales are on the websites of local businesses. I prefer to shop local; it felt so good to support local businesses during the pandemic – they need our support more than ever – and I want to continue to shop at the unique businesses in and around Western Massachusetts.

Never one to start my holiday shopping before December, this year I am changing it up. I am starting now by visiting businesses in the area to get creative ideas for giving. Let’s go shopping.