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Celebrating Thanksgiving .... The 'Pod' Way

Will you be doing what so many others are doing??

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A Covid Pod of Friends gather around a table for Thanksgiving
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Spread across the country for the past 14 years, my extended family and I always get together in November to celebrate Thanksgiving. We eat the same food each year, we set the table the same way, and for that single meal, all seems right with the world.

Except this year. I haven’t seen my family since February — my final visit to them pre-pandemic — and I just got the news that they won’t be visiting us this year, thanks to COVID. So I immediately phoned my pandemic "pod" — you know, the tiny group of friends who have become family in 2020. They’ve been the people I went apple picking with; the group that jumped in my inflatable pool on Independence Day; the same people who stayed up late on election night with me. Of course, they’ll be my family this Thanksgiving.

Families across America are separated this year not by space, but by COVID, and many are choosing to celebrate turkey day just like me: With their Quarantine Pods. Just like everything else in 2020, T-Day will look different. And also the same. But this time, we’re thankful that we’re able to surround ourselves with the people we love — regardless of whether they’re family, friends or a little of A and a little of B.

“We’re lucky that we have a large and stable pod of folks who genuinely enjoy each other’s company, but we’ll really miss the larger group and the traditions we’ve built up over the years,” says Jonas Bordo, CEO and co-founder of Dwellsy.

For the past 25 years, Bordo has been celebrating Thanksgiving with his 55-person extended family. 

This year, it wasn’t an option. 

Infectious Disease experts have suggested that families either plan outdoor, masked events with their families — or — even better, that they stick with the routine they’ve been doing since March. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s infectious disease specialist, urged the public to forgo the festivities this year, as the large gatherings are classified as a high risk of virus transmission. Choose to gather with your traditional Thanksgiving family group, and this could mean weeks of quarantining, COVID tests and . . . political arguments. 

So most people this year are choosing instead to stay home and quarantine with their stable pod. Pandemic pods, AKA quaranteams, aka bubbles, were originally formed for school children who needed to work in shared groups at home. But the “pod” term expanded, and now we have vacation pods, trick-or-treating pods and finally, Thanksgiving pods. The people in those pods never change — but the events they serve to support continue to evolve.

In Bordo’s pod, they’ll be trying to replicate dishes that his family usually brings to make it feel as much like their traditional family thanksgiving

“It won’t be Thanksgiving without Gladys’ sweet potato casserole, so we’ll try to figure out how to make it,” Bordo says.

Others, like Catriona Jasica, have adjusted to their new normal, and will be juggling their Thanksgiving pod with their Thanksgiving Zoom calls to family. Jasica — a content writer strategist — says she’ll be dining with her quaranteam in her apartment — and she’ll be learning to cook her first turkey via YouTube, as one does. 

“I’m feeling positive that it’s going to be a success, and we all will talk to our family and friends on video calls,” Jasica says. “My flatmates are in my pod, and we have been together since last year.” 

It’s all par for the course, says Ahmed Mir, founder of Sip Coffee House. Instead of a big dinner with friends, he says he’ll be celebrating with his small pod. And he’s grateful to be doing it.

“Beyond the social distancing issues, we are also very aware the future is uncertain, and unnecessary spending during these times is not wise,” he says. “I do think that the pandemic has brought us all much closer together, and has made us appreciate the small things in life.”