Movable Feast

W ho could have imagined last Thanksgiving that gathering for this Thanksgiving would be so dangerous? As of this writing, more than 25,000 residents of New Haven County have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 1,200 have lost their lives, with new cases surging.

“I think it’s a very hard time because so many people need the support and love and togetherness that Thanksgiving brings,” New Haven mayor Justin Elicker acknowledges. “But at the same time, I think we need to take the long view of being with our family for many years to come, and that means, as much as we possibly can, staying in our core family groups and not extending the circle to other people.”

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So, what’s a family to do? While some have pinned their hopes on admittedly imperfect testing to help them celebrate a traditional holiday, there are ways you can embrace the moment and reinvent Thanksgiving instead. For starters (and entrees), this might be the year to put the lid on cooking for yourself and instead support one of the many local restaurants offering Thanksgiving meals to go. Some are even offering dining room service.

For those in greater need, Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen’s “Thanksgiving for All” program has delivered Thanksgiving meals citywide for nearly 30 years. The tradition will continue this year, albeit in a scaled-back form. About 500 meals will be delivered “specifically for people experiencing homelessness and who are staying in shelters, hotels, and warming centers,” DESK’s website says. Anyone interested in helping can volunteer their services or donate funds.

Another kind of giving is happening during a 9 a.m. “Give Thanks” class with Balanced Yoga Studio in Westville. In past years, the popular holiday session has drawn up to 60 students, according to manager Barbara Campbell. This year the physical studio is already reserved to capacity, but students old and new can still Zoom in. “Taking a class on Thanksgiving is a great way to ground prior to any planned activities for the day,” Campbell says in an email. “It’s also a way to practice self-care—which we all need right now.” Breathing Room, downtown, and Fresh Yoga, at Erector Square, will also offer in-studio and virtual classes on Thanksgiving Day.

If you prefer to take your holiday exercise outside and on your own schedule, you can team up with Team Mossman Triathlon Club in Hamden, which is holding a virtual version of its annual Run Turkey Run 5K. The course, an out-and-back on a segment of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Hamden, is marked as usual, with participants running on their own anytime this week through Sunday. They won’t even miss out on the swag. Registrants can pick up their long-sleeve T-shirt and neck gaiter/mask by appointment. Proceeds will be shared with House of Heroes Connecticut.

Finally, since the 1990s, Thanksgiving week in New Haven hasn’t been complete without a trip to Dean Falcone’s Vomitorium, a live performance that Falcone himself describes as a “musical train wreck” in which he, drummer Jim Balga and bassist Ed Valauskas play a few unrehearsed tunes, invite their friends up to play and pull in audience members for embarrassing opportunities to sing and flounder. “This year’s been a bummer, obviously, because it’s an audience-driven show,” Falcone says. Instead, he’s teaming up with NHdocs to offer a holiday streaming package December 18-26 that will include a concert featuring local and national musicians and the documentary film North Pole, NY. Ticket proceeds will benefit the staff of Cafe Nine, where the Vomitorium has convened since 2006. In the meantime, for Thanksgiving, Falcone suggests an alternative: watching Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz, which documents the final concert of The Band, filmed on Thanksgiving Day in 1976 and featuring an all-star cast of guest musicians which, now that he thinks about it, was “kind of like the original Vomitorium.”

A lot is going to have to be original about this Thanksgiving, too. The entire 2020 holiday season will be different from years past—and, if we proceed cautiously, years future.

Written by Kathy Leonard Czepiel. Image by oasisamuel/Shutterstock.

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About Kathy Leonard Czepiel

View all posts by Kathy Leonard Czepiel
Kathy Leonard Czepiel is Daily Nutmeg's associate editor. She's also a fiction writer, writing teacher and book club troubleshooter. Her perfect New Haven day would involve lots of sunshine, a West Rock hike, a concert on the green and a coffee milkshake.

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