The COVID pandemic put an intriguing veil over our recent Thanksgiving festivities.

But no more than has been over the rest of the year. Our son and daughter and her girls were here. We were crazy busy baking, and in that regard, it was blessedly normal. The nine-year-old asked if we had friends coming over. When I said no, she asked why not. I responded, “Because of COVID.” She looked thoughtful, nodded, and said, “Oh, yeah, COVID.”

One word has come to define so much.

Despite recent, traumatic life events and not having friends join us this Thanksgiving, this isn’t a woeful tale.

Yes, we very much missed sharing food and conversation with friends. However, staying grateful for what we do have kept our spirits mostly positive. In keeping with this year of change, we enjoyed slow-roasted lamb;

stuffing; buttery, sautéed delicata; tri-color coined carrots; and whole wheat bread.

I truncated the dessert menu to one cherry pie and sugar cookies the girls had cut out, decorated, and baked earlier in the afternoon.

The planned cheesecake did not get baked in time for dessert.

Through the afternoon, it stood sentry on the counter, ready to go in the oven. Who knew two little girls could take an entire afternoon baking and decorating sugar cookies? However, those who love Sophie’s Choice New York cheesecake agreed that it would make the perfect breakfast food.

Since the first Thanksgiving following my father’s passing, I have grown accustomed to unusual Thanksgivings. That Thanksgiving, my mother invited fourteen people who also had no one with whom to share this special meal. A freak wet and heavy snowstorm rolled in as we were eating. I can remember Boyd Richards later navigating the hill several times to make sure some of the older drivers had a safe ride home.

As the years have moved on, I don’t think I have ever experienced two Thanksgiving gatherings that were the same year after year. Some traditions have dropped off, and others have evolved. I am blessed never to be alone, cold, or hungry.

The most crucial tradition remains constant.

We say grace and express gratitude for our positive abundance in all directions, remembering that abundance is not having more than we need; it is having what we need.

May we have peace in our hearts and shine light from our souls as we move forward.