Do not gather with your extended family and friend groups for Thanksgiving 2020. If you do, you risk your own lives, the lives of your family members and friends, and the lives of dozens or hundreds of other people. By gathering this Thanksgiving holiday amid soaring COVID-19 infection rates, you are doing something that is the moral equivalent of drunk driving: you’re making a choice that, yes, first and foremost endangers everyone in your own car, but absolutely puts the general public at risk as well.
Special bonus note: Health care workers are at tremendous risk not just of contracting COVID-19, but also of exhaustion, burnout, depression, and PTSD. When you send out that email or Evite or Facebook message telling your family that it’s off for this year, but you hope to see them in 2021, you’re sparing not just the people close to you, but your community, and health care workers, too.
You’ll be doing something remarkably good, that you can feel proud of for the rest of your life.
It brings me actual anguish to write this, because The Heavy Table is first and foremost a magazine about gathering around food and drink. It’s about forging meaningful connections over tortas and aguas frescas, or turkey and cocktails, or pho and boba tea, or BBQ and beer. There is maybe nothing more antithetical to our mission than discouraging people from getting together to celebrate than – and this is important – encouraging people to commit manslaughter by pandemic.
It is definitionally deranged that we need to publish this editorial. But the federal government has refused to meaningfully combat this incredibly deadly and debilitating disease, and many Americans have decided – and this is true of guns, too – that it is more important that individuals have the freedom to do deadly things than it is important that other, utterly innocent individuals, have the right to live. With federal leadership and financial support for restaurants, bars, and other workers, we could be punching down our infection rates and keeping people safe until we can end the pandemic for good. Without that support, we have nothing but our communities and our consciences to keep us safe.
An effective vaccine appears to be around the corner, perhaps in a matter of months. That means we can skip Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings in 2020, hunker down and mask up, and hopefully definitively put this horrible disease in our collective rearview mirror in 2021. Every person who doesn’t get COVID in the next 6-9 months is a person who – free of lasting organ damage or, you know, death – can truly celebrate a year from now.
So: support a local restaurant and order in something terrific, or prepare a fantastic meal with all the fixings for the people in your immediate pod. Call, or zoom, or message with the people you love who you can’t meet to face-to-face. And look forward to a real gathering, with all the bells and whistles and joy – when it’s safe.