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The canadian press

Empty seats, feasts delivered as virus changes Thanksgiving

Vivian Zayas can’t help but scroll through photos from last Thanksgiving, when her mother stood in front of the stove to make a large pot of rice and beans and then sat on the edge of the table. That was before anyone heard of COVID-19 and before he claimed the retired seamstress. Ana Martinez died aged 78 on April 1 while recovering in a nursing home from knee replacement surgery. The family have their traditional meal of turkey, yam, green beans, and rice and beans – but Zayas takes a seat off the table at her home in Deer Park, New York this year and puts her mother’s walker in her place as reminder of the loss. “It’s a painful Thanksgiving. You don’t even know, should you celebrate? Zayas asked. “It’s a time of loneliness.” Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday amid a relentless pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than a quarter of a million people in the United States. Turkey and pies will always come out of the ovens, football will always be on TV, families will always give thanks and have heated conversations about politics. But this holiday has been completely changed after months filled with sorrows and difficulties: many festivals are weighed down by the loss of loved ones; others were canceled or reduced with the outbreak of the virus. Zoom and FaceTime calls have become a staple at tables for connecting with family members who don’t want to travel. Much less volunteers help out in soup kitchens or community centers. A Utah health department has delivered boxes of food to residents infected with the virus who cannot make it to the store. A New York nursing home offers car tours for families of residents who struggle to celebrate the holidays on their own. “The holidays make things a little more difficult,” said Harriet Krakowsky, an 85-year-old resident of the Hebrew home in Riverdale in New York City who misses the big Thanksgiving celebrations of years past and has lost neighbors and friends to cause of the virus. “I’m crying, but I’m getting over it. We must continue. On any normal Thanksgiving Day, Kara McKlemurry and her husband would drive from their Clearwater, Florida home to one of two locations: her family’s home in another part of the state or home. of his family in Alabama. This year, McKlemurry informed his family that there would be no visits due to the pandemic. And when her in-laws offered to drop by, the couple said no. She and her husband didn’t want to risk infecting anyone or catching the virus themselves. Not everyone followed McKlemurry’s lead. Millions of Americans have bought tickets to fly somewhere for the holidays, clogging airports despite calls from authorities to avoid travel and gatherings. Still, McKlemurry, 27, wanted to do something unique to mark this unusual holiday – something to let everyone know that she and her husband still feel blessed this year. So, a week before Thanksgiving, armed with colorful pens and owl stickers with scarves, she hand-wrote notes of gratitude to each member of the family. “We are so grateful to have you in our lives,” she wrote on a card with a cartoon fox, “although we can’t be together this year for the holidays.” In the nation’s capital, the convention center is empty unlike in previous years, when volunteers worked together to serve a meal to around 5,000 people. In the age of social distancing, the sponsored event had to be redesigned. Ahead of the holidays, organizers delivered to 20 nonprofits 5,000 gift bags, each containing winter clothing accessories, hand sanitizer, and a mask, and 5,000 boxes including a turkey sandwich with condiments. , a potato salad, a cookie and utensils. From start to finish, Thanksgiving is different this year for Jessica Franz, a nurse who works the cemetery shift at Olathe Medical Center in a Kansas City suburb. On the one hand, Franz, 39, is celebrating without his stepmother, Elaine Franz, who died of the coronavirus on November 10, just a day before her 78th birthday. In previous years, her mother-in-law, who was a Mennonite, prepared a board for her children and grandchildren. At Franz’s work, in a typical year, colleagues would bring food for a potluck. None of that is happening this year. The family is moving the festivities to Zoom and FaceTime. It was difficult for her daughters – ages 2, 8 and 11. Her second daughter was exposed to the coronavirus at school and is quarantined until December 3, and her eldest daughter is grappling with the concept of a reduced vacation. “We had a great conversation which was, ‘This year may be different, and that’s OK. It has been a year. If things are different this year and that means we can see the rest of our family next year, then everything is fine, ”said Franz, who has personally cared for patients dying from the coronavirus. The Thanksgiving rally at David Forsyth’s home in Southern California, meanwhile, has a unique atmosphere in 2020: rapid virus tests at the door to decide who enters. The kit costs around $ 1,000 for 20 tests, each of which involves pricking a finger and placing a drop of blood on a tray. Ten minutes later, the results show that someone is negative, has antibodies, or is positive. Normally, about 15-20 people attend the family’s Thanksgiving dinner at Channel Islands Harbor. But this year it will only be eight of them: Forsyth, his wife, his four grown sons and the partners of two of them. His wife started cooking on Tuesday. She prepares a cold cucumber soup for a starter and a bunch of appetizers for the early afternoon meal. The sons bring side dishes. Turkey and fixings are the main course. Champagne can be cracked. Forsyth didn’t see much of his family during the pandemic but wanted to save the holidays. “People are trying to lead normal lives,” he said. “And, you know, with the second wave coming in now, it’s not a bad idea to be prepared.” Kerry Osaki longs to see and hug her now adult children without a mask. But instead, he and his wife only celebrate the two after their traditions are turned upside down. Osaki’s 93-year-old mother Rose, who lived with the couple in Orange County, California, died of the virus after the three fell ill. With his mother gone, Osaki, 67, and his cousin decided to skip the family’s annual Thanksgiving reunion. His wife, Lena Adame, typically spent the holidays cooking a turkey spread and stuffing with loved ones – but some had seen cases of the virus in their workplaces, so the couple decided to skip that, too. “It was just a long, difficult and sometimes sad year,” he says. In Ogden, Utah, Evelyn Maysonet came out of her home Tuesday morning to find boxes overflowing with canned goods, desserts and a turkey. She has been isolating herself with her husband and son since all three tested positive for COVID-19. None of them were able to leave for groceries, so they were thrilled to receive delivery from the health service – and the chance to treasure the things that matter most. “As long as you have a life and are still alive, enjoy it with you and your family,” Maysonet said. ___ Associated Press editors Tamara Lush, Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Sophia Eppolito, and Amy Taxin contributed to this report. Regina Garcia Cano, Matt Sedensky and Heather Hollingsworth, Associated Press

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