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Patrick Hampton / November 23, 2020

Thanksgiving: The Tradition Americans Should Fight For

What right or power do government officials have to regulate family gatherings?

As if 2020 couldn’t get any worse, elected officials are calling for families to forgo their usual Thanksgiving gatherings. Instead of warmth, Americans are met with worry as news article after news article calls for a socially distanced celebration after months of isolation and lockdowns.

Despite the COVID-19 death rate being incredibly low, some governors are doubling down on restrictions, reducing gatherings to less than 10 people.

People should be worried about roasting their turkeys, not rushing to get tested. Besides, the timing couldn’t be more inconvenient, as grandmothers and aunties spend weeks planning for travelers and distant loved ones to gather.

It’s sad that some of my friends are canceling the celebration altogether due to their coronavirus concerns. If we want to be realistic, we’d be more worried about salmonella poisoning and unsafe food practices. Instead, we’re told to wear masks, pass up the beautiful sterling silver flatware, and to forget about hugging your Grandma (even though it could be her last holiday with everyone). The list of “requirements” only brings about discouragement instead of the cheer we could all use this year. I’ll let you be the judge:

  • Tell out-of-town family to stay home
  • Go “virtual” for Thanksgiving — because we needed more Zoom calls
  • Celebrate outside — yes, as temperatures drop
  • Wear masks, even though their ability to stop potential infection is in question
  • Only celebrate with immediate family from one household
  • Check your risk using an “Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool” (yes, this app is real)
  • Eat from disposable plates, forks, and cups
  • Not passing around platters
  • Enjoy Thanksgiving “buffet”-style with gloves
  • Only the cook can be in the kitchen
  • Social distance
  • Two hours visitation maximum
  • The season couldn’t be more sterile.

It’s not about the inconvenience. It’s about the principle behind it. Every year, Americans gather in gratitude for togetherness, something local governments have been banning and fining citizens over for the past nine months. Americans gave these lawmakers their two weeks to slow the spread and, at this rate, it looks like they’re going to take two years.

All this while California Governor Gavin Newsom enjoys a birthday party with at least a dozen others at a swanky restaurant. Who cares that this goes against the COVID requirements of having less than 10 attendees and keeping gatherings to one household? All you need to know is that you need to do a better job at stopping the spread.

And even though Governor Newsom says he’s sorry, the better apology from these petty dictators would be to let us make commonsense decisions about our own safety. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem both set the perfect example for this in a manner that embodies the spirit of our nation — let the people choose. It’s not like the government has the best track record for doing anything correctly or effectively. What makes any of these lawmakers believe that they know better about our health is beyond comprehension.

If you can’t trust the government to provide reliable information, and if you can’t trust your elected officials to walk the walk on COVID mandates, then it makes little sense to put your faith in government to decide how you celebrate this season. God gave each of us an immune system and the good common sense to stay healthy. This Thanksgiving, I’m most grateful for that.

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