When Thanksgiving Traditions are Derailed


The holidays are looking different for many families in 2020.  

My family usually does Thanksgiving big, like really big.

We usually have 3-4 generations travel to the Midwest to celebrate with Granny, who was our matriarch.

My sons love outdoor adventures so we would split the drive into a couple of days each way, stopping at parks and caves along the way.

Granny 3Granny was 98 when she passed away, in early 2020. This year is the first time, in over a decade, we will not have a fall gathering.

2020 has derailed a few plans for us.

Including the entire planning and canceling of my gorgeous cousin’s wedding. Twice. Here’s hoping for March 2021 (third time is a charm, right?!).

Cousins 2I am so incredibly lucky to have such a close bond with my cousins. We have lived far apart our whole lives, so we are used to not physically being in the same space. The group texts, zoom calls, and annual gatherings have allowed our generation to grow and thrive together.

However, the thought of what I am missing is weighing heavy on my mind and in my heart.

I grieve for the ones we have lost and the moments that will not happen.

The first birthdays and new milestones we have missed. Not enjoying kitchen table coffee with my Aunt while listening to my Uncle singing in the background. Or the noise of my cousin’s laughter and jokes as we get DEEP into the wine rack while playing dice. I leave with my face hurting from smiling and that joy can last me a whole year until I can see them again. These are my absolute favorite memories. It is fuel for my soul and the love we have for each other makes my heart feel like it is overflowing.  The absence of this family comfort will be devastating this year. For my family and for many others.

Zoom call with familyThere are too many different households to all come together safely.

Four of the cousins/aunts work in healthcare and we would be jeopardizing their patients’ safety as well. Others have in-laws or daycares that need protecting.

When I thought about what the options were, I knew I needed to accept what is not in my control and form a new plan.

After some soul searching and research we decided to social distance in a different place. If I cannot have my extended family, I wanted water and sun.  

I found a beach house in the Keys that has everything we need, to take a vacation, while isolating from everyone else. I am looking forward to our road trip and having picnics on our way to south Florida. The kids will still have their outdoor adventures. We will swim, kayak, fish, pitch a backyard tent under the palm trees, and ride bikes.  

Children are more resilient than adults when it comes to holidays.

The traditions adults hold onto are less important to them, especially when they only remember doing it a few times.  

2020 has made my sons pivot and adapt often in school, sports, friends, and life.

We expect them to understand/adapt and it is our job to help them process feelings of frustrations/the unknown. I am taking a little of my advice I have been giving my boys for the last 8 months of quarantine. “2020 is hard, but it will not last forever, and we will do something different instead. We can make this fun…”

This is not the way I ever intended to spend Thanksgiving, but that does not mean the different experiences will be less meaningful. This is what I am choosing to focus on being thankful for this year.

How are you adjusting your holiday plans this year?


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Coral Tagge Farrell grew up in Pass Christian. After high school she took a “gap decade” to explore the country; and settled in the San Francisco Bay Area. After Hurricane Katrina she moved back to the Gulf Coast to be closer to family and help rebuild. She married a local guy (who annoyed the hell out of her in high school) and finished her BA from Tulane University. JR and Coral have 3 strong-willed boys aged 9, 7, and 3. JR travels often for work while Coral holds down the fort. She works remotely for a dot com and is occasionally successful with a work/life balance. She loves her boy mom status, audio books, snuggling her babies, board games, travel, red wine, caffeine, and girl friends – not necessarily in that order.