Tue | Jan 26, 2021

J’cans in disapora followed CDC guidelines in celebrating Thanksgiving

Published:Monday | November 30, 2020 | 12:07 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer

The coronavirus pandemic did not stop Jamaicans in the diaspora from celebrating Thanksgiving, but with a different feel this year, with a majority adhering to the guidelines set down by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by staying home and confining their celebration to only immediate family members.

A check by The Gleaner with Jamaicans across the US centres with large Jamaican populations revealed that for most Jamaicans it was a quiet Thanksgiving, spent at home with only members of their household in attendance.

Allan Cunningham, who resides in Florida, said that while he had some eight family members for Thanksgiving, they were all members of his household.

“We observed the requirements laid down by the CDC. Everyone wore a mask when not eating, and we social distance,” he said.

Cunningham said that this year’s Thanksgiving celebration felt strange.

“Normally, we have 50 to 60 people at Thanksgiving dinner. This year, only the members of our immediate household were present,” he said.

He said he just wants the pandemic to be over.

“This was not the traditional Thanksgiving dinner,” he pointed out, noting that despite the pandemic, he provided some 12 families with turkeys as well as monetary donations for their Thanksgiving.


Carl Maxwell, who also celebrated with his immediate family – his wife and two daughters – said that while it was strange to have so few people, he enjoyed his Thanksgiving.

“We stayed in our bubble. No one from the outside was invited to our home,” he said.

Maxwell pointed out that in past years, there would be about 40 family members present for Thanksgiving dinner.

He did say that he face-timed with some family members on Thanksgiving Day.

“It was quiet and it put everything into perspective. It was more intimate and I really enjoyed the quiet setting,” he said.

Another Jamaican who celebrated Thanksgiving with her immediate family members was Marceline Lawson.

“It was quiet, peaceful and nice. We wanted to be safe and did not want to expose ourselves to the virus, and so we did not have the usual 20 or so people,” she said of her Thanksgiving.

She said that they adhered to the CDC guidelines for Thanksgiving by staying home.

Lawson said that days before Thanksgiving, she went out and provided food and money to families that were hurting so that they could care for their families.

She further pointed out that in past years, she would pick up food from various restaurants for distribution to families in need, but not this year.

“I was not prepared to expose myself to the possibility of getting the virus,” she said.

Franklyn Dunn also chose to follow the CDC guidelines and stayed home to celebrate with only members of his immediate family.

“The truth is that I did not feel like I missed anything this year,” he said, pointing out that had it been a normal Thanksgiving, he would have travelled to New Jersey from his Mount Vernon home to attend family dinner.

“I called some relatives to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving, but that was it. I was not going to expose myself or my immediate family members to the possibility of contracting the virus,” he said.

On the other hand, Nadine Ward entertained some 19 family members at her Indianapolis home for Thanksgiving.

She had relatives who flew in from Florida and Oklahoma for the day.

“We did follow the CDC guidelines to social distance and to wear face masks,” she said,

Ward noted that two dining tables were set up, and some people also utilised the deck to allow for social distancing.

Yvonne Barnett said that her Thanksgiving was quiet and low-keyed.

But she did help to provide some eight seniors and others with foodstuff and monetary contribution before Thanksgiving Day so that they could take care of themselves and have food for the holiday.

She said that many of the seniors would be home alone, as their relatives were not travelling to be with them because of the pandemic.

“COVID has really impacted our community, as we are mainly used to family affairs at Thanksgiving. Not this year,” she said.

Other Jamaicans who could not be with family members prepared meals and dropped them off for their relatives.