Thanksgiving is the beginning of the holiday season and a time to reflect on the passing time in the company of friends and family. But things are going to look a little different this year. With COVID-19 cases spiking across the country, health experts are urging folks to stay home and steer clear of large gatherings. It won’t be easy, but it’s important to stay safe and more essential than ever to find gratitude in what has already been a challenging year.

Several GBH local digital team members recently got together to share their plans for giving thanks, keeping safe, and finding new ways to carry on holiday traditions this year. You can read their stories below. We hope they make you laugh, bring you comfort, and inspire you to try something new!

"My Life in France" by Julia Child
"My Life in France" by Julia Child
Meghan Smith

Feeling Grateful For Time To Read A Good Book

Most of my family members are frontline workers and will be working on Thanksgiving, so this holiday doesn’t feel quite as celebratory. But I will take advantage of my downtime and try to be far away from screens. I recently picked up Julia Child’s autobiography, My Life in France, which I plan on diving into this week. I’m living vicariously through Julia, as she travels, learns about new cultures, eats fabulous food, and enjoys the simple pleasures in life. ~ Meghan Smith, Digital Producer,

Front Row Boston Executive Producer Greg Shea and his family at the 2019 Feaster Five Road Race, an annual Turkey Trot in Andover, Mass.
Front Row Boston Executive Producer Greg Shea and his family at the 2019 Feaster Five Road Race, an annual Turkey Trot in Andover, Mass.
Greg Shea

Keeping A Family Tradition Alive, Virtually

Thanksgiving Day for my family and me has always started with running the local "Turkey Trot" road race (for us, it's the Feaster Five Road Race in Andover, Mass.). This year it'll be a virtual experience, and while it's a bummer we won't be able to see so many of our extended family, friends, and neighbors at the starting line, we'll join thousands of others across the globe running their own courses (and doing it safely). I'm sure running virtually will feel very different from past years, but it won't be just another run around the neighborhood either. I expect the same blast of cold air greeting us in the morning as we sleepily lace up our sneakers (and do last-minute checks for gloves and hats)... the same invigorating feeling of being outside and getting in some exercise to start the day... The same feeling of gratitude for all the good things in life, and, of course, the satisfaction of burning some calories before consuming countless more later in the day. ~ Greg Shea, Senior Producer & Executive Producer of Front Row Boston

Thanksgiving Turkey dinner (that I didn't have to cook.)
Letting my local businesses do the cooking this year.
Brent Hofacker

Showing Gratitude For Local Businesses

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is a sport for which my family and I consider ourselves "seasoned" athletes. How many sides can you cook and shove into the oven with a 20lb turkey? We can get at least half a dozen in there and always count a few of them being for a family member who shows up on whatever fad diet is popular that year. It's demanding, but it's tradition, and the time we spend together that day is worth every bit of the chaos.

But this year will be different. We've decided to keep it small and safe, which also means we won't be going through the journey of making that epic meal with everyone around. Instead, we've ordered our feast through our favorite local restaurants. The decision has come with many surprises. For starters, we're trying new things. Stuffing made with local artisan sourdough bread from Kith and Kin in Hudson? Yes, please! We also splurged and got a charcuterie board from Mullahy's, a local artisan cheese purveyor. Only a few more sleeps until that shows up and gets in my belly.

We're grateful to have an opportunity to show our gratitude for the small businesses that are the anchors of our local community. We consider them our extended family; the ones who don't crowd up in the kitchen to see how many casserole dishes are in the oven yelling, "nothing's gonna get cooked if you put another dish in there!" ~ Stacy Buchanan, Managing Producer Arts & Culture, & Front Row Boston

Cranberry Moscow Mule, Hot Toddy and Old Fashioned Mocktails
Cranberry Moscow Mule, Hot Toddy and Old Fashioned Mocktails
Brent Hofacker/ Nelli Syrotynska / Erich Wagner

Honoring Family, Old And New, With Three Festival Holiday Mocktails

This Thanksgiving is going to look different for my family — and most families — in many ways. Chief among them is that we’re down a member, having lost my beloved grandmother, whom we called “Honey,” last month. She loved the holidays and having her favorite people all around, and this time of year will always make us think of her. But, the circle of life continues, and as we say goodbye to one family member, we say hello to another: we’re humbled to be adding to our little family with another baby this spring. So, I thought it only fitting to share some drink recipes that I’m looking forward to sipping on throughout the holidays, the first which my Honey would have loved, and all of which are delicious sans alcohol (although of course, you’re welcome to add your booze of choice to each!).

A New Fashioned Old Fashioned Mocktail
Cranberry Moscow Mule Mocktail
A Not Naughty Hot Toddy

~ Ellen London, Senior Editor,

Skipping the large turkey meal altogether this year.

Cooking A Seasonal Meal (That’s Not Turkey)

I’ve never been a huge fan of Thanksgiving: I’m an only child with no cousins, so adult tastes in both menu and conversational topics always prevailed growing up, and the day’s whitewashed violent colonialist past doesn’t put me in the mood for celebration. The redeeming quality of the day, IMHO, is family time, and cooking something special, so I’ll be making a decadent, seasonal meal for my partner and myself that has nothing to do with turkey: maybe these soup dumplings? ~ Jackie Bruleigh, Marketing Manager & Co-Host “Drama After Dark”

Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge with his fellow cast members of A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge with his fellow cast members of A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
© Walt Disney Pictures/ Jim Henson Productions

Giving Thanks, Eating Pie, And Then Getting Ready For Christmas With Holiday Films

I’m a sucker for any holidays that involve feasting and family, so the stretch of the year from Thanksgiving to Christmas is one of my favorite times — and I honestly don’t waste a moment of it. Once the final pie crumbs have been shaken out of the table cloth, and I can collapse in a post-feast fugue state, I break out the Christmas movies. This year I’m planning on a triple feature of two classics and one new contender: The Shop Around the Corner, Jimmy Stewart’s other “Christmas Movie,” and the much better inspiration for You’ve Got Mail; The Muppet Christmas Carol, a.k.a Michael Caine sings and dances with Muppets for the best 90 minutes of your life; and Netflix’s recently released Jingle Jangle, which promises a rollicking good time, and I’ve literally been waiting until the first acceptable moment to watch it. Happy viewing! ~ Andrea Wolanin, Senior Producer & Co-Host of “Drama After Dark”