Happy to give thanks

The pandemic is causing people to alter their Thanksgiving plans, but Shirley Caesar said, “beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes;” are still on the menu. L-R, husband and wife duo JaVonta and Angela Trotter, and Julia Latimore

BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – Before the pandemic turned the world upside down, families looked forward to gathering for holiday festivities and a delicious meal. Gospel recording artist Pastor Shirley Caesar sang blessing of “beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes;” it was the traditional Thanksgiving meal on the table of most African-American families and a testimony of how we have been favored throughout the year.

Thanksgiving gatherings are a special time when faraway relatives have an opportunity to meet new additions to the family while admiring the growth and development of others. A year would have gone by for fables and tales to be gathered and shared to the excitement of those visiting family members.

But that was before COVID-19 intercepted traditions and expectations —today, who knows what to expect. The presence of COVID strains and unsureness of who has been vaccinated has brought about caution and fear, mainly of the unknown.

Families are now relegated to present safety measures guidelines that could quickly become offensive and divisive. This is what COVID-19 has done, and it’s the new normal.

“This Thanksgiving, we will be gathering together with our family. Since the pandemic, we have noticed we don’t have so many visitors stopping by to fellowship,” said Angela Trotter with her husband, Ja-Vonta, nodding in agreement.

Some families maintain the traditions with modifications because they see the value in family and faith.

Retired educator, Julia Latimore, stated that she would celebrate Thanksgiving with her family in an alternative way. Her family, extended family, and friends usually gather at one house and put tables out to accommodate the crowd. However, they are getting together on a smaller scale because of the pandemic. Different locations will host smaller gatherings, and the family will intermingle between the homes to have dinner.

“We know that it’s still important to get together,” said Latimore. “First, I will have my grown children, grands (children), great grands, sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews. Then, I will travel across the bridge to my daughter’s house to be with other family members. We always pray and give thanks to God.”

In many families, tradition holds for each person to tell why they are thankful, and during these difficult times, it holds even more meaning that they are still able to get together and praise the Lord, of course, eat lots of good food.

Times have changed, and it is a new normal for the Thanksgiving season. In the African-American tradition, families pray together and have a delicious meal. There will be plenty of smiles, laughter, and new additions with lots of fables and tales to go around. Through all that the world has endured this past year, people are just happy to give thanks.

To reach Dexter McCree, email dmccree@theweeklychallenger.com

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