“I’m sorry guys but we’re going to have to cut you.”

“What? We’ve been in every production every year.”

“I know. I’m sorry. But our funding has been diminishing daily and our expenses have increased tremendously. Expenses we never saw coming. So the production has to be cut way down this year. I’m so sorry”

Thanksgiving 2020: the downsized production. The cutting board decisions aren’t easy. What once and always was needs to be rethought, reconsidered, reconfigured. Who’s in our pod? What does pod even mean? My mind darts back and forth. My eyes narrow? I say to my son, “You’re my pod. But you’re having everyone? ..everyone??”
“Mom, we see them all the time. You know that.”
He’s talking about his in-laws. They do they see them all the time. We see them.. often. We all live in the same town. But they are pod-adjacent to Jack and me not pod-secure. That pod is not my pod. Reconsider..again. Make a different decision… again.

“Okay, so you’ll come up here,” my sister says. My older sister by 12 years. “It will just be you, Jack, Stephen and me.” Stephen is my brother. My older brother by 9 years. I feel okay about this. I know their movements, like ours, are pretty limited. Not quite quarantine but quarantine-ish. Is -ish enough? The numbers continue to rise. And rise. Another group text. Another conversation. Yesterday I say with trepidation, “I think we’re going to stay put. It’s just too risky.” The backlash I expect never comes. Instead there’s a text this morning: “I’ve cancelled the Russo’s turkey.” Turns out ‘-ish is not enough. She’s my older sister by 12 years. He’s my older brother by 9 years. I’m 68. You do the math.

I begin to look up recipes for “your smaller Thanksgiving”. A turkey breast in the slow cooker looks interesting. Stuffing in a pie plate. Should I try to make my own cranberry sauce or dress up that Ocean Spray whole berry can instead? Who gives a shit? runs through my mind.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re in lockdown by mid-week,” my Manhattan daughter tells me. “I’m getting tested on Tuesday and then again next Tuesday. “

There’s HIV testing for potential sexual partners and now there’s Covid testing for potential visits home. Standing in a testing line is the new NYC normal. She’s supposed to take the train up to see us for the Thanksgiving weekend. We’ll avoid the big crowd at her brother’s house and have a ‘feast’ for 3. Then she can see Rosie the day after. That’s the plan. So far. Days until Aunty Britt’s visits are usually crossed off on the calendar. Rosie gets giddier and giddier with anticipation. We haven’t mentioned this visit lately and her 6 year-old mind hasn’t quite remembered and so we remain silent.

“I hope this works out Mom but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t.”
“It’s okay, hon. I get it,” I reply. I feel another crack open in my heart.

It’s 10 days before Thanskgiving 2020. The numbers keep rising. Just a week ago we had ventured out for our first foray into indoor dining. It went fine. Local restaurant. Big room. Very few people. Everyone masked. Not a lot of chit chat. It was nice to be waited on again: well no it was kind of boring. No people watching. Minimal conversation. We’re done with restaurants for a while. It’s not worth it. As we were leaving they gave us a paper Thanksgiving catering menu for 4. I stuffed it into my purse. Last night I fished it out.

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