October 15, 2021
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2020 Thanksgiving Sonoma County

By: DM Pickeney
November 20, 2020

The temperature drop here in Sonoma County has made it clear that winter is upon us and that change in climate typically ushers in the start of the holiday season. However, in 2020 nothing seems to be typical or even normal, for lack of a better word. So, we’ve asked our friends and neighbors how and if their Thanksgiving plans have been altered this year. We have asked five local families what their plans are for this year, some families are celebrating as usual while others have had to observe much more muted celebration this year due to travel and Covid-19 restrictions. We asked, “What is your typical Thanksgiving celebration look like and has it changed at all this year, if so, how?” The responses we received were varied and give us a glimpse in the heartbeat of our county. We hope you enjoy this with your family as much as we enjoyed preparing it. We started our journey with 71-year-old and local Disc Jockey at KOWS radio, David Barsky and this is what he had to say. 

“Typically, we go to my brother Allen’s house in Marin, we like to go there because he has a big house and it gives the kids that haven’t seen each other in a while a chance to get together and run around,” he tells me this over the phone while staying in Sacramento with his girlfriend Robin and her two older sons in preparation for this year’s celebration. “This year, however, we are just going to zoom each other from our respective celebrations, I’m staying with my girlfriend and her two boys. You can’t be too careful I had a friend get the Covid this year and we (Mr. Barsky and his girlfriend) don’t want to take any chances.” A lot of our responses received echoed Mr. Barsky’s desire to stay protected and protect others. 

Kaitlin Maza, 35, mother of four and Medical Assistant at Kaiser in Santa Rosa, mentioned similar concerns when explaining why she chose not to travel to Minnesota for the holiday this year. “My Mom and Dad are getting on in their years, so the last couple of years I’ve really tried to make it a habit to go home and visit my parents. I grew up in a large midwestern family and Thanksgiving always means that all the aunts, uncles and cousins can get together and make way too much food. It also means staying out of the snow and hot apple cider around the fireplace while everybody decides who’s on who’s Christmas list.” She holds back tears and you can hear the lump in her throat as she expresses her next wish, “I am really hoping that things go back to normal soon I really miss my parents.” It easy to see that the added pressure of the forced separation pains her but changing the subject she continues, “I still like to cook a big traditional turkey for my family. My husband makes the turkey and I make the gravy and all the fixins but with our large household there are hardly any leftovers.” 

However, not everyone has time for a traditional celebration this year. Egricellia 

Castro, 59, nurse at Sutter Health Pac in San Francisco and resident of eastern Santa Rosa had to celebrate early in order to coordinate her celebration with her daughter and her family. “I usually am too busy to cook anything for myself I just don’t have the time to stand in the kitchen and do all that work and then also have the time to do all the cleaning involved in preparing a really large meal, so I go to the grocery store and I buy a premade meal. My daughter, her husband and their children drove from Monterey to visit me and we had a little celebration this weekend. (Saturday, November 14) She brought some food they made to share with me and it’s just easier because my schedule is so busy, to celebrate this way.” 

Max Cohen, 20, budding app designer and student at NJIT said his family tradition of travelling to Nevada to meet other members of their clan for their yearly Thanksgiving celebration has been  postponed this year. Instead, they will be observing a subdued celebration at home with his parents and siblings in Rincon Valley. “We usually go to my uncle’s place in Nevada but this year we are just staying home. My parents will probably make some food or will order something and then we are going to try and set up a Zoom call with all our family out there.” This last sentiment seems to be a very popular choice for a lot of families this year attempting to still connect, even if only digitally. 

Vanessa Frost, 36, co-owner of North Bay Theatrics Company in Cotati and resident of Cotati said her family will be observing a smaller gathering than years past. “My local family is pretty big and we usually all gather at our house and have my nieces and mother over, when it’s just the local family there’s about fifteen of us but when our family from Southern California and other family fly in from out of state and then it’s about double that. This year however, with Covid and everything going on, we are just going to have the local immediate family meet up. We are thinking of, weather permitting, holding our celebration outdoors as an extra layer of precaution.” Another tradition which was disrupted was their annual Friendsgiving celebration. “We’re also not having any of our friends over this year and I’m going to miss that. We typically have a couple of our friends and their kids come over, before Thanksgiving, and we have a potluck style ‘bring your own dish’ dinner but with all the concern over safety we decided to forego it this year.” 

Regardless if your celebrations are large or small this year, or if you’re gathering in person or even having to connect digitally this year, from our families here at The Voice to yours, we’d like to wish everyone a safe and warm Happy Thanksgiving.