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Say no thanks to COVID-19 this Thanksgiving

October 7, 2020
Feature Stories

To say this year has been tough is an understatement. Thanksgiving is one of our most beloved traditions, and the prospect of missing out on the social connection we all crave right now is hard to bear. At this critical time, we must stick to our households and refrain from gatherings that could put us and our loved ones at risk. If you’re feeling disappointed, you’re not alone. Seven months into it, we are still in this together.

We know we can flatten this curve. How? Because we’ve done it before. Together.

The question then becomes – what’s next? Take a deep breath and consider the following tips to have a great Thanksgiving 2020 while still staying safe.

A falling red maple leaf, with fall colours out of focus in the background.

Rethink the holiday

Rethinking this weekend means managing expectations. We know that COVID-19 is spreading through social gatherings in homes, backyards, cottages, bars and restaurants. It’s hard, but keeping your distance from friends and family who are elderly or have underlying health conditions is an act of love.

Rather than dwelling on what you can’t (or shouldn’t) do this weekend, reimagine for yourself and your household a weekend that will offer rest, relaxation and social connection in a way that safeguards the health of the community as a whole. And then embrace it.

  • If you’re staying put when you would normally travel, fill your time with fun: binge your favourite comedy series, get out for a walk or hike, play board games with your kids – whatever brings you joy.
  • If you normally cook up a feast but secretly dread the kitchen chaos, give yourself permission to let others do the heavy lifting this year. Many restaurants offer take-out or will deliver a Thanksgiving menu. Bonus: There has never been a better time to support local.
    • Local Eats Ottawa offers a compiled list of Ottawa restaurants offering food delivery or pickup.
    • SavourOttawa.ca is your one-stop site on how to buy locally produced food and beverages in the region.
    • Love Local Delivery offers scheduled and on-demand delivery from Ottawa’s best independent, locally owned and operated food businesses.
  • Let the farmer’s market inspire your Thanksgiving menu! Buy local produce safely in an outdoor setting and try out a new recipe or two. Google butternut squash, apples, pumpkin and carrots and see what inspiring, festive recipes you find.

A colourful array of fruits, vegetables and flowers in the ByWard Market in Ottawa.

Plan ahead

During times of uncertainty, it’s easy to spin our wheels. But waiting too long to make decisions is a recipe for disappointment. Make a plan now, so even if your Thanksgiving looks different than it normally does, you can still make the most of it:

  • Pre-order from your favourite restaurant. No one wants to hear “we’re sold out of that.”
  • Coordinate a video chat via Zoom, Skype or FaceTime so family members in different cities/provinces can still celebrate together. Organize it in advance so it’s not a scramble the day-of.
  • Plan a special meal or dish that your household can look forward to – even if it’s at a smaller scale than it might usually be – and do your shopping in advance to avoid crowds and line-ups.

Give thanks by giving back

There are many people in our community who need help and support. Donating to the Ottawa Food Bank or supporting refugees settling in Ottawa might be just the thing to give your weekend more positive meaning.

You could also support the Good Companions or the Champlain Community Support Network. They have been offering much-needed support to seniors, who are increasingly isolated due to the pandemic.

If you’re looking for support, call or visit 211 for the latest information on a wide range of community resources.

Maybe you can reach out closer to home. If you’re a die-hard foodie and nothing short of an earthquake wrapped in a train wreck and dipped in a dumpster fire will get between you and a homemade, four-course meal, pause and take a mental inventory of your community. Is there a single parent or elderly couple nearby you could share your bounty with? These are the moments that reusable containers were made for!

Stay healthy

Limiting close contacts to just the people in our households and one or two essential supports will save lives. This is not an exaggeration.

When we do see friends and family, let’s do so with caution and assess the risks. Check out Ottawa Public Health’s guidance for social gatherings during COVID-19.

A young black man is crouched next to his daughter on a sidewalk in a residential neighbourhood. Both are wearing masks.

However you spend your weekend, be COVID-Wise:

  • W – Wear a mask or face covering where required, or when you cannot maintain a physical distance of two metres (six feet).
  • I – Isolate yourself from others when you are sick, and get tested promptly if you have COVID-like symptoms.
  • S – Stay two metres (six feet) apart from those outside your household.
  • E – Exercise proper hand hygiene; wash your hands regularly or use sanitizer, especially before touching your face.

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