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From the Publisher: Plan C 

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I always look forward to Thanksgiving. Simplistic historical narrative aside, the sentiment and the food — which are served up without the burdens of religion and gift giving — make it the perfect nondenominational holiday. Also, for as long as I've been an adult, the day has been more about friends than blood relatives. I enjoy gathering with the people I love, as well as the occasional "orphan," to feel the warm embrace of surrogate family.

Of course, things rarely go as planned. While I eagerly anticipate the fourth Thursday in November, I almost always overdo it — issuing too many invitations, ordering up an excess of side dishes, and harboring unrealistic expectations about the long walks and deep conversations we're all going to have. When I host, worrying over meat thermometers and gravy, I often feel like I've missed the whole thing.

My partner and I were well on our way down that path at the end of October. Between the two of us, we had offered our place as a fallback option for three "orphans"— a legislator, our next-door neighbor and a friend who was single at the time but now has a boyfriend we've never met.

Then two of my dearest friends — each with a husband and college-age daughter — proposed celebrating Thanksgiving together. We did it as a group last year, at my place, and one of them offered to host this time to take the pressure off. That's when I had to explain we'd already invited three — possibly four — other people who might or might not come ... and if any of them did, they would probably feel weird going to someone else's house.

For a fleeting moment our table was set for 10 — the maximum allowable indoor capacity at the end of October — before my dear friends both canceled. Then, on November 13, Gov. Phil Scott disinvited everyone else when he announced a prohibition on multi-household gatherings.

The only company we are counting on now is the 15-pound turkey I ordered two hours before the governor's decree.

As with so many things that have been downsized or canceled this year, I feel a mixture of sadness and, honestly, relief.

With or without guests, I'm grateful for all the love and support readers of Seven Days have extended since the start of the pandemic, in the form of notes, emails and donations. Even at the darkest time of the year, after months of losses, our community lights the way.

At our table on Thursday, we'll be getting back to basics: giving thanks for the land, the food our farmers grow on it, good health and the roof over our heads. As this public health crisis has underscored: These things should never be taken for granted.

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About The Author

Paula Routly

Paula Routly

Bio:
Paula Routly came to Vermont to attend Middlebury College. After graduation, she stayed and worked as a dance critic, arts writer, news reporter and editor before she started Seven Days newspaper with Pamela Polston in 1995. Routly covered arts news, then food, and, starting in 2008, focused her editorial energies... more

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