Ask Amy: An Unusual Thanksgiving This Year

By Amy Dickinson | November 11th, 2020

This year's holidays are going to look a lot different – and that's okay


Thanksgiving couple celebrating alone Image

Dear Amy: As Thanksgiving approaches and we are setting the table for three instead of 14, I took a moment for a reality check.

I remembered when my daughters were in college and clued me into the Wednesday night tradition of going to a bar to fortify oneself for the strain of being with all those relatives.

I remembered those disastrous Thanksgivings, with the barbecued turkey that meant no gravy for Grandpa’s mashed potatoes.

Or the year the dining room table, extended with all its leaves, started to sag in the middle and my brother dove underneath to support it while yelling for C-clamps.

I remembered the horrendous travel problems, like when my sister was five hours late because of traffic in the pre-cellphone days and my mother suggested calling the state police every 10 minutes for accident reports.

Perhaps, it will be a good year to quietly laugh at those Thanksgivings past and accept the pause in the tradition this year.

Perhaps, reflecting with gratitude about each person you are missing will be like a palate-cleansing course in the meal of life. Keep trusting that there will be a bigger turkey next year.

And thank you, Amy, for all the wisdom and compassion you dish out!

— Thankful

Dear Thankful: Your beautiful note perfectly conveys the complicated feelings many Americans are having this Thanksgiving.

Your email also arrived on the morning of my Aunt Jean’s death. Because of the pandemic, her daughters could only visit her through a window until hospice care liberated them and they could be with her in person at the very end.

Aunt Jean was the last of the legendary “Mighty Queens of Freeville,” four fierce and funny women whose influence shows up in this column regularly.

And Aunt Jean always made the gravy.

Yes, the groaning feast table will be much lighter this year. But I hope your message will inspire families to count our many blessings, remember with joy those who can’t be with us, and promise to put aside our differences when we finally feast together in person.

This year, as I do every year, I will be at the little church in my hometown, cooking and serving a Thanksgiving meal to people who would not have one, otherwise. We’re doing a “take out” service, and I’ll be making the gravy.


Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2020 by Amy Dickinson

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