Although Thanksgiving has arrived, the year is still 2020, and the entire world is still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

After lockdowns, social distancing and quarantines, Thanksgiving is seemingly the perfect time to come together. However, COVID-19 cases are rising and families are being forced to face difficult decisions.

Tylerites Marc Loredo and Hector Garza have felt the weight of those decisions in their own lives, as they have both called off their traditional Thanksgiving gatherings.

However, all hope is not lost as the two men and their families have thought of ways they can adapt and celebrate without putting their loved ones at risk.

“It will be different not having a big gathering at my house with my family. Normally, our family from different cities come in and we have a big party,” Garza said. “This year it will just be myself, my wife and kids and no one else — we’re toning it down.”

Although Garza’s extended family won’t physically be meeting around the table, they will see each other through phone and computer screens to pray together and exchange hellos.

“We are going to do a massive Zoom meeting with the family, pray together and then everyone can go their own way,” Garza said.

Loredo’s family is fortunate to all live in the Tyler area, and for that reason, their Thanksgiving plans will be especially creative — a drive-thru food swap.

“My brother and sister in-law thought of a drive-by delivery style Thanksgiving,” Loredo said. “We will keep it as normal as possible meal-wise. Each family member will sign up for what we would traditionally make and are going to do it at our own homes after exchanging those items.”

Loredo’s wife will make stuffing and break it down into family-sized portions.

The family members will let her know how many people plan to eat her dish, and she will proportion out the right amount of food. When they go to pick up food from other family members, they will also deliver the stuffing.

“We are doing it with family and close family friends, anyone who would have been there and brought a dish,” Laredo said. “We want to make it as traditional yet safe as possible.”

Both Garza and Loredo said coming to the decision to have an “alternative” Thanksgiving wasn’t easy.

“Everything is different,” Garza explained, from curbside pick up grocery shopping to calling off the typical family celebration.

Altering holiday plans has been “depressing” and “disappointing”, Garza said, however by canceling the large gathering, he believes he will keep his family safe.

“We’re doing it for everybody’s safety, especially my elderly parents,” Garza said. “They are in their 80s. By gathering as a whole crowd it could make them very susceptible. It’s really rough because you could go to the store and someone else you don’t know can carry it. Then you have 50 people in one house, and one person can spread it to more. This is a preventative measure to stop the spread.”

Loredo expressed similar sentiments as he explained the risks his own family would face.

“My wife and brother and sister in-law work in school systems, and there’s generally a large amount of exposure available there,” Loredo said. “My mother- and father-in-law are senior citizens. My mother-in-law has pre-existing health conditions, which leave her more vulnerable to things like COVID-19.”

Despite the change of plans this season, Loredo explained that for his family, it is a sacrifice worth making.

“Healthy or not, a person of faith or not, old or young, all are capable of contracting the virus,” Loredo said. “We don’t want to not have someone to spend holidays with next year because of something we did this year.”

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Multi-Media Journalist

Taylor Miller is a bilingual reporter who helped launch an initiative to start the first ever Tyler Paper Spanish website. When she isn't translating and recording video updates, she typically covers features, government, and events.