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Downsizing the holidays

One of the joys of Hawaii’s melting pot society is how each new culture adds its favorite foods, traditions and celebrations to the mix.

The same Maui family may pound mochi and light fireworks on New Year’s Day, eat hot malassadas every Fat Tuesday and decorate the yard for Christmas. Of all of the holidays, low-key Thanksgiving is one of Hawaii’s favorites.

What’s not to love about a day based on family, friends, food and fellowship? As a federal holiday, it’s practically the law that we put aside responsibilities and gather with people we love and appreciate, many of whom we may see only once or twice a year. Amid the laughter and savory aromas wafting from the kitchen, we take stock of our blessings and give a nod to those who came before us.

There’s no need to sweat the menu. Thanksgiving’s comfort is its culinary predictability and sameness. On Maui, that may mean there are always platters of fresh sashimi, dim sum, pork adobo and poi on the table beside the turkey, stuffing and gravy.

This year, COVID-19 throws a wrench into the works. Large family gatherings and parties are strongly discouraged. Family spread is one of the main ways the disease is transmitted in Hawaii. It is feared this holiday could be a superspreader. State and county officials recommend staying home and celebrating within one’s own bubble.

No matter how encouraging recent vaccine news is, we are not yet out of the woods. The virus continues to set daily records worldwide for both infections and deaths. A bleak winter is predicted. As Dr. Anthony Fauci says, help is on the way, but it’s not here yet.

Even when vaccines are available, it is going to take time for them to be distributed to the general population, especially out here in the middle of the Pacific. We just need to hang tough a little longer. By this time next year, families may be planning their biggest Thanksgiving bashes ever, all without worry or guilt.

Wouldn’t it be a shame to fumble the ball this close to the goal line? It is OK to downsize Thanksgiving and Christmas. Tell the relatives Dr. Fauci says so.

If you are planning to host or visit a Thanksgiving event, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website has tips on how to make it safer. Along with mask wearing and hand washing, suggestions include holding events outdoors, limiting the number of guests and having conversations ahead of time to set expectations on health protocols. Keeping food prep areas off limits to guests and using single-use items like plates, utensils and condiment packets are also recommended.

We at The Maui News are thankful for our readers and our diverse community. We wish everyone a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

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