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Is the pandemic changing how we celebrate

Posted On 14 Nov 2020
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By Carolyn Marnon – Thanksgiving is a time to count your blessings and give thanks for all you have. We wanted to find out what local community members were thankful for this year and whether the COVID-19 pandemic had changed how they planned to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Leslie Holland, a Wayne resident, has already told her family she will not be doing Thanksgiving this year. In the past, it has been a big family event at her house. “My mother is 99 years old…not taking chances, and everyone seems alright with it.” Leslie plans to get a small turkey and have her mom over for dinner.
Tim Butler plans to do everything the same this year as he has done in previous years. He has 6 children and a grandson. Those children who don’t celebrate at their in-laws will come to his home in Wayne. “That puts the count at a dozen if everyone shows up,” he says. “Our menu is traditional – a turkey (around 25 pounds), stuffing (my wife’s family recipe that everyone looks forward to), homemade dinner rolls, corn, green beans, and cranberry sauce. Sometimes we will have sweet potatoes or a squash. Dessert is a cheesecake, which is my big contribution to the meal, as well as pumpkin pie.” Tim does online Christmas shopping while watching the parade. “After the parade, it’s the official start of the Christmas season as carols are allowed in the house for the first time. I’d listen to them all year long if my wife didn’t put her foot down.” Dinner is usually served around 3-4:00 p.m. “Traditionally, we have not allowed football at Thanksgiving as we aren’t huge sports fans. However, my son-in-law broke that tradition. He’s a football fanatic, and we now enjoy watching the games together. It’s the start of a big weekend for us as we kick off Christmas. On Friday or Saturday, we go to a Christmas tree farm near Monroe to cut down our trees.”
Mary Blaxton, a long-time Wayne resident, plans to do something to “pay it forward.” “For three years, I worked with a few other women helping the homeless in Wayne. My husband and I like to pick a family in a restaurant and pay their bill. I have always paid it forward. I love this city!”
Cyndi Jones-White grew up in Westland. She is now battling lung and brain cancer while also caring for her grandbaby several days a week who also had a lot of health issues. “Thanksgiving at our house will consist of my husband, my sons, grandbaby, my daughter, son-in-law and myself.” Cyndi will only be with her family members that she is with everyday because she doesn’t want to take any chances with the virus.
Eric Pohl will most likely go to his aunt’s in Plymouth for the traditional turkey dinner. “Might be 8-15 of us there, depends on who shows up. I’ll most likely make my famous baked beans. Trick is to only use the Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce; anything else is wrong.”
Mallory Mack has family that lives in Wayne. “I am just cooking a small turkey dinner for my husband and dogs. Some of my family is getting together for a bigger celebration, but I am not comfortable with large gatherings without masks or social distancing, and cooler weather makes outside parties impossible. I have high-risk family members I have to think about.” She plans to share some turkey with her dogs and cats. “I am not sure if there is any parades going on, but we usually watch them on TV and then the game, even though neither of us is a big football fan; it’s just tradition watching the Lions.” She and her husband, Dan, will also probably Zoom with his family in North Carolina.
Pamela Conley will be spending Thanksgiving at her Wayne home, the one she was raised in. “Since becoming a widow seven years ago, I have only eaten the Thanksgiving meal with others twice. So no, it really will not be different this year. I will still prepare a small turkey breast with all the trimmings.” Pamela is thankful “that God is the one unchanging constant in all of our lives.”
Betty Spaw has lived in Wayne for 29 years while her husband was born and raised here. She’ll be preparing “the regular fixins, potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, Waldorf salad and pumpkin pie,” to go along with the turkey. She and her husband will host a small group-her two daughters, son-in-law, her brother and his wife, and her sister coming from Lansing. “I’m thankful for my family and good health.”
Marie Shannon, a retired USPS letter carrier in Wayne with the same route for 21 years, will be cooking at home with no company this year. “We’re doing a turkey in our new air fryer as we normally fry our turkeys outside.” She also plans on a small Dearborn ham along with mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, corn, rolls and maybe a green bean casserole with pumpkin pie for dessert. “The last few years, we went to our oldest son’s and his family, but with COVID, we chose to cook at home, and I’ll make plates and deliver to both my local siblings. I love leftover turkey sandwiches, and pumpkin pie is always a favorite.” Marie is thankful that she will finally get leftovers!
Jean Knight lives in Westland, but she works for the Wayne-Westland school district and has many friends in Wayne. She and her husband usually travel to Monroe to spend Thanksgiving with his family. “We will not be leaving our home this year, and I will cook a dinner for just my family. I am thankful that no one I love and care for has passed away due to COVID.”
Several additional comments were shared.
Andrew Edwards said his family is getting together as they always have. Their parents have passed on, so there were no worries in being together. Linda Cook is thankful for the 46 years she had with her husband before he passed away in September. “This year will be just 8 of us celebrating Thanksgiving. It will be extremely bittersweet.”
Megan McDonald doesn’t know what they will be doing for Thanksgiving this year.
Christopher Cato is looking forward to the “same crappy turkey lol.”
Tammy Gagnon is thankful for her family and friends, especially the support and help they gave her while she was going through her own health issues.
Brian Fodell expressed his thoughts with this: “Six allowed at Thanksgiving, but 30 for a funeral. I will be holding a funeral for my pet turkey that will pass away on Nov. 26th. Refreshments provided.”
However you celebrate it, we hope your day is a happy one. Happy Thanksgiving!

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