But that doesn’t mean it can’t still be a festival.

“Indulge in the fact that you, the cook, have the day off and do exactly what you want to eat,” said Melissa Clark, Times Food columnist. “Give yourself permission to make the food you want – some of my friends have Sichuan dumplings and pumpkin pie.”

When you gather around, Tara Parker-Pope, Well’s founding editor, has some advice.

  • Look at the most vulnerable. “Is there anyone who is at high risk?” Said Tara. “Maybe it is an elderly person, someone with a weakened immune system, someone receiving cancer treatment, or someone who is very obese or has diabetes.” First, consider their needs.

  • Stay small Keep your guest list as small as possible. You need to know where everyone has been because a person who has been exposed can put anyone at risk. “Friendship doesn’t make a bubble, behavior creates a bubble,” said Tara.

  • Take it outdoors. If you or you don’t live in a warmer climate, bring the food out into the garden. If you eat inside, Keep the windows open and turn on the exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen.

  • Mask yourself. Wear a mask as much as possible. Tara said she was modeling behavior. “When I saw the food shift to the conversation later – which is the best part of the meal – I took out my mask and put it on,” she said.

Tara told us that she has canceled her own Thanksgiving plans and is only having dinner with her daughter.

“I know these are difficult choices for people,” said Tara. “I tell people, ‘A sacrifice on this holiday will bring you many, many more holidays with the people you love. Don’t make this your last vacation with them. ‘”

A warning against testing. “If you start using tests to justify your gathering of 10 or 20 people, you are making a huge mistake, ”warned Tara. Tests can lower your risk and be useful for students coming home or for people caring for an elderly relative, she said, but a negative test isn’t 100 percent reliable and is not a substitute for other precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing.

A tool to understand your risk. How Safe Is A Des Moines Thanksgiving Dinner? Or Boise? Or Atlanta? Georgia Tech researchers have developed a risk assessment tool that can estimate the likelihood that someone infected with the virus will show up at dinner in your county. For example, if you meet up with 25 people in New York City, there is a 21 percent chance that at least one person will be positive. There is a 99 percent chance in Stutsman County, ND.

We asked families to let us know how they are adapting their Thanksgiving traditions this year. Her words, edited for length and clarity, show that even in a year of pain and difficulty, Americans are determined to find a way to say thank you.

(For his part, Dr. Fauci told us he was very grateful to his wife, Christine Grady, Chair of the Bioethics Department at the National Institutes of Health: “She’s kind of a solid anchor in terms of steadfast and exceptionally good judgment … when I’m feeling I’ve been beating around in the universe of people who want to kill, fire, behead me, it’s always nice to come home to someone who is really a very rational person. “)

Our family distributes a grocery registration list and we deliver favorite dishes to those who request it. In the end, we laughed at the almost total disagreement about what the best foods were. It turns out that some have pretended to love traditional foods that very few people really enjoy, and those who enjoy the traditional are completely uninterested in all of the additional recipes I’ve introduced over the years have.

– Kathryn L. Nelson, Minneapolis

Rather than meeting with family, we plan to order different components of the meal in restaurants in the area. You need the support. Extra food is packaged and shared with some who we know have problems.

– Mary Godlewski, Chicago

My parents, 78 and 81 years old, live in Canada. I haven’t seen her in a year. To protect everyone, I’m not going home for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Because I can’t be there, I had a life-size cardboard cutout made of me and sent it to my parents. While it’s ridiculous and a little silly, I know it puts a smile on my mother’s face.

– Christine Campbell, Los Angeles

I will work in our intensive care unit, where we have few staff again due to the growing number. I’ll have Thanksgiving with my working family and hope we have a chance to eat.

– Nicole Germano, South Portland, Maine

We move our Thanksgiving Day outdoors and earlier in the day with a group of less than 10 people. We make a campfire and forego traditional food in favor of hand-held soups and appetizers. Nobody is mad that we don’t have a turkey – maybe that part of the change will last!

– Annie Wanner, Minneapolis

For the past few years my boyfriend and I have cooked a big Thanksgiving dinner together. We live separately in our own apartments. We’re healthy but older, 67 and 72, so we are careful and practice social distancing. For this Thanksgiving Day we plan a nice walk and a quick snack at my place (window open) or in the park. We’ll see a movie together, but from a distance, in our own four walls. Our goal is to stay healthy and alive this vacation with the hope that we can celebrate a real Thanksgiving together in 2021.

– Karen Kawaguchi, Bronx, NY

I am a student living states separated from the rest of my family. If I went home for Thanksgiving, I would have to finish the rest of the semester in Chicago instead of the Boston campus where I am now. So I’ll be spending the break in my dorm and eating turkey alone in the dining room.

– Tyler O’Brien, Boston

We took advantage of an unusually warm day in November for Connecticut and had Thanksgiving outdoors early! We invited our parents and siblings over and had an outdoor potluck-style Thanksgiving dinner. It was fantastic!

– Teri Schatz, Woodbridge, Conn.

Skip. No risk, no harm, no one gets sick, no one dies, no one grieves. Better apart than below. I respect and love my family enough to be separated so we can celebrate for many years to come.

– Paul Marber, New York, NY

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Ian Prasad Philbrick contributed to today’s newsletter.

Email your thoughts to briefing@nytimes.com.


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