Home U.S. News How Californians Are Adapting Thanksgiving

How Californians Are Adapting Thanksgiving

Credit…Gregory Bull/Associated Press

Good morning.

Traveling is fraught with danger this Thanksgiving. So is being inside with too many, or vulnerable loved ones.

And reckonings over racial inequity this year have prompted reflection on the myth of the first Thanksgiving.

In light of all that, we asked how you’re adapting your traditions this week.

Our colleagues culled responses from around the country. Some said they were upending their plans, and hunkering down on their own, while other Americans said they were forging ahead, ignoring warnings.

[Read the full story.]

In California, many said they’re taking advantage of the ability to celebrate outdoors and planning uniquely Californian feasts. Here are some of the plans readers shared. (We’ve lightly edited and condensed for length.)

Credit…Kristina Woo

Kristina Woo, of Los Angeles, said she will enjoy a smaller meal and time to think through the meaning of the holiday.

My Thanksgiving plans this year have gone through many iterations, lots of starts and stops. At the moment, I plan on eating socially distant outside with two friends (a married couple), but with things worsening in California, even that is up in the air. No matter what happens, though, I do plan on cooking a special meal just for myself Thanksgiving weekend. While Thanksgiving is usually a revolving door of friends flowing in and out with food and drinks, making a small, thoughtful meal feels like a good way to treat myself after this very long, painful year.

While I have much to be grateful for, and the practice of gathering with loved ones over a meal is something I hold in the highest esteem, many events in 2020 have prompted me to examine my approach to this holiday. So I created a podcast, “American Ritual: Thanksgiving,” with three other friends to try to untangle the holiday and to create new meaning for it going forward.

Credit…Chris Parman

For Chris Parman, of Concord, this year will involve a mountain tradition of decades, but scaled back — and masked.

Every year on Thanksgiving we cut down our Christmas tree at a tree farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We were looking forward to keeping that tradition this year until the CZU Fire ravaged most of their land and property. Luckily, they have reported about 20 percent of the property was undamaged and we are able to return safely for an outdoor tradition while supporting a family-operated business. In a normal year, we head up to the mountains in the morning, then share lunch, snacks and drinks, before heading on our search for the perfect tree. Afterward, we head to the home of the matriarch of the family, my paternal grandmother, for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It would be a group of 15 of us.

This year, with people staying home and not traveling across the state, it will only be five people from three households, all coming and going separately. We will probably gather for a quick distanced hello then split off to pick a tree and head home for big dinners. This has been tradition in my family since 1964 and it feels good to be able to keep one tradition standing in a year of significant change.

Credit…Kate Nelson

Kate Nelson, of Redwood City, is planning a very California day.

It will be just my immediate family: My husband and two 9-year-olds. We usually start our Thanksgiving by running the Gobble Wobble, a local turkey trot, followed by a pancake breakfast and a turkey dinner at night with several other families in our community. With no organized races this year, we will try to get outside and go for a family bike ride. My daughter is pescatarian and my husband and son are not big turkey fans, so I can’t justify getting a turkey this year. Therefore, we are doing a truly San Francisco Thanksgiving and having Dungeness crab and then going surfing on Saturday. We’ll be totally distanced from other people and it will still be a fun way to celebrate our family.

Credit…Briana James

For Briana James, of Oakland, and her family, two separate feasts will be had this year. And they’ll be no less festive.

My sister will join my husband, daughter, and me for an outdoor feast with gumbo and fried turkey as the centerpieces. We ordered mac and cheese, greens, dressing, and a pie from our favorite local joints (shout out to Chef LaLa and PieTisserie). Auntie made my 1-year-old a tiny tuxedo (with tails), and I’ve ordered us all top hats. Oh! And décor will be tropical themed, because this Thanksgiving deserves a cocktail umbrella — or seven. Thanksgiving is the holiday at my parents’ house. We haven’t visited since February, even though we’re only 80 miles apart. My mother is still cooking her usual spread of turkey, honey-baked ham, mac and cheese, dressing and gravy, and her famous blueberry Jell-O for two people. I’ll miss my parents, but am grateful I won’t have Jell-O forced on me.

(This article is part of the California Today newsletter. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox.)

  • Where are people staying home for Thanksgiving? Here’s a map. [The New York Times]

  • Los Angeles County’s closure of outdoor dining survived challenges on Tuesday as Covid cases continued to soar. [The Los Angeles Times]

  • San Francisco stayed in the state’s red reopening tier, the second most restrictive, though much of the Bay Area clamped down. [The San Francisco Chronicle]

Read more about the tier system. [The New York Times]

  • California was bilked out of hundreds of millions of dollars after a rash of fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims was filed under the names of inmates, including dozens on death row, law enforcement officials said. [The New York Times]

Track California Covid cases and hospitalizations across the state. [The New York Times]

  • Wild turkeys thrive across much of California — the divisive birds moved into cities and suburbs when water was scarce. Now, as the climate warms, their habitat may be shifting. [CapRadio]

Credit…Christian Monterrosa/EPA, via Shutterstock

We’ll be off tomorrow and Friday for the holiday.

But first, we wanted to say how truly grateful we are for you, our California Today readers. Thank you for opening this newsletter every day with such curiosity and generosity.

In a year that’s been tough and exhausting for all of us in different ways, hearing from you has kept us going.

We wish you and your loved ones a safe, restful weekend — whatever that looks like.

See you on Monday.

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: [email protected]. Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here