It goes without saying this year's Thanksgiving holiday was unlike any other. Families and households were forced to make tough decisions in response to the growing concerns of the pandemic and restrictions imposed by the governor's administration.
I was no exception.
Being a product of divorced parents, I am fairly used to rotating whose house I visit on holidays, or even making attempts to swing all lunches and dinners on Thanksgiving Day.
But this year was different for me, as it was for many others.
With coronavirus cases breaking records daily, and having several high-risk members of my family to be in attendance of a holiday occasion, I had early thoughts of opting out of gatherings altogether.
Once Gov. Andy Beshear made his call on get-togethers, I made mine.
Instead of the hustle and bustle to get from one family to the next to stuff my face with traditional favorites, I decided to make the holiday feast myself at my own apartment.
First, however, I had to break the news to both sides that I would not be coming -- which yielded different reactions of support and disappointment from some in my immediate family.
I was disappointed too -- I would not get to see my niece, nephews, sisters, grandparents, and most importantly, my parents. I would not get my granny's fried apples, or to pick on my Uncle Tony at the table over a glass of Woodford Reserve.
After frustrated phone calls and a few shed tears, I realized I had a feast to make despite the familial guilt I was feeling.
I picked up the necessities, and plotted my execution of my first-ever Thanksgiving meal. As the "big day" grew closer, I found myself getting a bit excited to not only reach a personal goal cooking-wise, but for feeling comfortable in the decision I made to protect myself and my family.
And even though I was not able to physically see or hug them, I made sure they were with me throughout Wednesday and Thursday.
On Wednesday night, after I finished prepping a few sides, I put on Bing Crosby's White Christmas -- something my step-mom and I watch every year at this time. The next morning, I danced around the kitchen cooking to Led Zeppelin, a band my dad and I used to listen to together. Even cooking, I called my mom several times to perfect the recipes and get her advice on how she and other family members did their turkey, or how long they left their broccoli casserole in the oven.
Like others, I FaceTimed and called my family throughout the day to share stories, laughs, and even a few tears in this one-of-a-kind holiday.
Once I finished cooking the turkey breast and all the sides, I felt a sense of accomplishment and resolve in the decision I had made to stay safe, at home.
Despite not being with my family in-person, I had in place all of the holiday traditions that we have shared together throughout my life and was able to incorporate those in my own traditions in 2020.
So even though I was not there with them, I hope my family knows they were very much with me in my thoughts and actions this holiday season. I hope they understand the decision I made was not an easy one, but one made out of love and compassion.
Here's to next Thanksgiving, where I inevitably will be required to bring more than a side-dish to the family celebration. I hope everyone had a happy and safe Thanksgiving that prolongs into the New Year.