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Seven reasons why it’s actually easy to cancel Thanksgiving this year

A sign with 'Happy Thanksgiving' on dining table with people in the background.
Close up of a candle and sign with ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ on dining table with people in the background.
(skynesher/Getty Images)

This year, man. Stick a fork in it. Wrap it up in chains and throw it off the Brooklyn Bridge. I’ve had it, you’ve had it, we’ve all had it. Pinkie swear that we’ll never speak of 2020 again, okay?

I assume this is why so many are traveling to be with family this Thanksgiving, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’ pleas to stay home with the people they live with. I get it: After so much isolation, it’s only natural that we’d seek out the comfort of family to push us through the rest of the year, and Thanksgiving is practically defined by togetherness.

And I’m sure that’s what a lot of people will be telling themselves when putting their family at risk. “Sorry for giving you COVID, Grandma, but at least we’re all together.”

But here’s the thing: Thanksgiving is actually the easiest holiday to cancel. It’s just not that great. Even during a non-pandemic year, I’d rank Thanksgiving just a little above Flag Day. So, before you board that plane or plan that big gathering with people who have assured you that they’ve been safe, consider the following reasons to cancel the holiday.

You won’t kill your family: I like my family enough to not want them dead, but hey, that’s just me. I don’t want to speak for everybody.

Cases are spiking throughout the country at an alarming rate. In San Diego, every day brings a new record, and this trend is happening nationwide (USA! USA!). It seems that lockdown fatigue plus the prospect of a vaccine on the horizon has softened our vigilance, even though we knew winter was going to be bad. It’s like a bad case of senioritis, but this is a little more serious than skipping out on movie day in your last biology class. And even if your immediate family isn’t affected, your gathering has the potential to infect those outside of your pod. We all remember the wedding that resulted in the deaths of at least seven people, all of whom weren’t even at the wedding. And turkey isn’t even that good, which brings me to the next point ...

Turkey isn’t even that good: If the main course at Thanksgiving was, say, pizza or burritos or literally any other food, then I may be more forgiving of the mass endangerment of elderly and vulnerable. But ... turkey? It’s like someone tried chicken and thought “Ugh! Too flavorful!” I mean, it’s fine, but that’s about as high of praise as I’ll give it, and anyone who claims that it’s better than “fine” is a liar. Turkey is basically just a vehicle for gravy. It’s going to be sad to see how many people suffer because of this filler meat.

An illustration of a turkey
Is turkey worth a possible COVID-19 exposure?
(Camily Tsai / For The Times)

Thanksgiving is just a glorified potluck: I’ve spent most of my adult life rallying against potlucks, and not even a devastating pandemic is going to get me off of this high horse. What could be wrong about sharing food, you ask? Well, if, like me, you’re not culinarily inclined, a potluck is just one big flex from those who are good in the kitchen. “So you made this pie crust from scratch? And is this homemade cranberry sauce? I’m sorry — cranberry relish? I brought a bottle of Wild Turkey.” Simply, a potluck is a way for foodies to establish dominance.

Dinner conversation might be a *tad* more heated this year: For some reason, people are really into politics this year. Don’t ask me why. Whatever the cause, politics is always the worst-yet-inevitable topic of Thanksgiving dinner conversation. We want to love our families no matter what, but it’s increasingly difficult when your Fox-addled uncle starts spouting off QAnon conspiracies or claiming that the election was stolen. We just survived a hellish election cycle, so why do you want to stunt your recovery by jumping back into the fire? Honestly, I’d consider canceling Thanksgiving this year even if there wasn’t a pandemic going on.

Fewer chances of getting hurt: I don’t know what it is about Thanksgiving that gets everyone riled up. It’s like one minute everything’s normal, and then suddenly your 60-year-old dad is playing tackle football in the yard, your nephew is climbing up your legs, and everyone’s just screaming. This year is not a good one for all that roughhousing, because emergency rooms are going to need all the beds they can get.

You won’t have to endure comparisons to your more successful brothers: Not all of us are good at science and math, mom! Just kidding, mom. I know you’d never disparage my writing career (out loud).

It’s a holiday gateway drug: How we behave during Thanksgiving this month is how we’ll behave during Christmas and Hanukkah next month. The mindset will be: We survived Thanksgiving, so what’s the harm in getting together again? And before you know it, you’ll be organizing large gatherings for every occasion: President’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Taco Tuesdays, Regular Mondays. Show some discipline, and treat Thanksgiving with the same caution that you’d show any dangerous pastime. Now, pass that Wild Turkey.


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