Family Finds Creative Way to Celebrate Thanksgiving Safely

EUGENE, Ore. — As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges Americans to avoid Thanksgiving travel and to keep gatherings small, many are getting creative with their plans to celebrate safely.

Bebe Morris is one of nine family members who live in the Eugene-Springfield area, making up four households.

“Usually, for Thanksgiving, we meet at my daughter’s house,” Morris said. “Everybody brings something or chooses from the menu.”

However, they decided Thanksgiving will look different for their family this year due to the pandemic.

“I made up the traditional menu and talked to all the kids, so they thought it sounded like a good idea,” Morris said.

Here is what they’ve decided: Everyone makes their selections ahead of time, noting what they would like to eat and also what they would like to prepare.

“When I got all that information, I made a master sheet so everybody would know,” Morris said. “What they’re supposed to do is put the portions into some sort of a container, either family style or individual, depending on what they see.”

Then, on Thanksgiving Day at 11:45 a.m., the families will meet at a large parking lot.

“We’re parking all of our cars six feet away from everyone and popping the tailgate,” Morris said. “Two people at a time will go to each vehicle and take out the things that have their name on it. Then, they’ll all go home to eat it.”

It doesn’t end there. Later in the afternoon, everyone will get back together virtually to talk, catch up and even play a few games.

“It won’t be a whole lot different, because I’ll be working just as hard on Thursday morning than I would if I was taking them somewhere or someone was coming here,” Morris said. “At least, we’re getting to do something.”

Her grandson Jason Fenley shared his thoughts.

“On a typical year, we have a big family get-together, obviously lunch, dinner and whatnot for Thanksgiving,” Fenley said. “This is going to be much different.”

He said his grandmother is eager to cook and provide for their family. His message to all is clear.

“Make sure you are safe with COVID-19,” Fenley said. “Enjoy the holiday, even if it’s going to be a lot different.”

The love and community isn’t limited to those blood-related. A few friends will also be joining in.

Jason Johnson has been friends with Fenley for around 11 years. He said he’s viewed as part of the family and shared that this year will still be special, even with a bit of a twist.

“I’m definitely looking forward to the food and trying everybody’s food,” Johnson said. “I get to make a fruit salad, so I’ll be contributing that.”

Johnson also urged community members to keep something in mind this season.

“The people we love — we need to protect them,” Johnson said. “I think coming up with creative ways of spending time together, sharing food together and looking forward to the future when we can all actually meet again is important.”

“I just feel good that we could come up with anything that would work without exposing a whole bunch of other people,” Morris said.

They said this type of Thanksgiving experience can also work out well for Christmas or any other celebration.

“We have to do things, sacrifice and do whatever we need to do to get this thing under control,” Morris said.