Tom and I had a one o’clock reservation for a traditional Thanksgiving meal in the dining room. We were seated at one end of a rectangular table, with another couple we knew slightly at the other end.
Although socially distanced, the four of us were able to chat – because those who needed hearing aids wore them – and the conversation was fun, rambling from adventures with animals one person enjoyed while growing up on a farm, to my early morning bike rides with my dog trotting along beside.
Good thing Tom and I enjoyed the company, because the meal was subpar.
Our waitress had been newly hired, and the meal was long in coming. First course was a gelatin salad, followed, slowly, by gloppy casseroles and cold turkey (really). By the time the cranberry sauce arrived, I had two bites left. And they ran out of champagne before dessert. (For the CCRC crowd, one o’clock is a late seating.)
Afterwards, walking back to our apartment across the campus newly planted with flowers, I found myself reflecting on my surroundings: walkways paved and sloped for wheelchairs and walkers; automatic door openers and discrete signage at an appropriate eye level – in other words, everything an elderly or infirm person requires. But the Thanksgiving celebration had been lacking.
Some of our neighbors left the campus to dine with their children living nearby. They took the recommended precautions of course, including Covid tests for grandchildren arriving from out of town.
These people had chosen to live at The Terraces precisely because of its proximity to a son’s or daughter’s residence. Tom and I couldn’t hang out with family; our three kids live back East, separated from each other by a thousand miles.
Last year, we’d flown to Philadelphia to share Thanksgiving at my stepson’s home. Our daughter-in-law’s many aunts and uncles drove down from Connecticut, so her side outnumbered ours. But we did our part to celebrate the grandchildren and enjoy the pie.
Even without a pandemic, though, we’re not likely to keep flying as it gets harder and harder for Tom to move around.
Two-thirds of our crew came west one Thanksgiving to celebrate in a rented mansion in the red rock country near Sedona. (Highlight of the visit was a wild drive on dusty back roads in ATVs.)
It’s hard to get the entire blended family together, though, because they are spread apart in age: the oldest grandchild is 27 and the youngest is three.
My preferred post-pandemic alternative would be ordering a deluxe turkey dinner from one of the local supermarkets and sharing it in our own home with whoever would be able to come that year. Eventually, everyone would rotate in.
This year, after the meal, we visited virtually with each of the three families in turn. I expect everyone did something similar. Aren’t we all lucky that Zoom has perfected the technology?
Despite the pandemic restrictions and a lack-luster Thanksgiving, I conclude that living at The Terraces suits me. My husband needs help in fighting the progression of Parkinson’s disease; the CCRC gives him in-house physical therapy and easy access to neighbors for a therapeutic chat.
It gives me time: I do less cooking, cleaning, and maintenance, and I can leave Tom alone for a couple of hours knowing the wellness staff on campus will keep him safe. So we’ll continue to live here until the next life-changing event occurs. And then I’ll see.
This is the last of my monthly posts about CCRC living. Thank you for following along as my husband and I moved into our CCRC and explored the lifestyle here. I’ll be happy to converse with you about any aspect of CCRC life or to answer questions about my writing, or yours. Please feel free to contact me via my website.
How did you spend Thanksgiving? Did you visit children or did you host a small dinner? Or perhaps you chose to celebrate virtually? Please share your 2020 Thanksgiving memory with us!