xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Anne Arundel residents change Thanksgiving plans as coronavirus cases surge, elected official urge people to stay home

On Thursday, Gwen Mayes won’t be toiling away over a Thanksgiving meal of turkey, stuffing and the like. Instead, she plans to fire up the grill in the backyard of her Eastport corner lot and host a few neighbors. Hot dogs and hamburgers, grilled chicken and ribs, and maybe even some bacon doused in maple syrup, are on the menu.

Families across Anne Arundel County have grappled with how to safely celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday during the coronavirus pandemic, weighing the risks of taking cross country flights, long road trips or even quick jaunt to another part of the county to see relatives they likely haven’t seen much of since March.

Advertisement

Mayes, who is in her early 60s, often worked on Thanksgiving and didn’t get to see her family. As a result, her celebrations varied over the years, from volunteering at soup kitchens to delivering meals to those in need. This year, Mayes says she’s staying put.

“I find what’s most important is to just get creative,” she said. “I think people ought to think outside the box.”

Advertisement

She plans to invite a handful of neighbors over to share in the grilled delicacies at a safe distance. The fire will be lit around sundown. Clean blankets will be available for anyone who needs an extra layer against the cold. And even those folks who do host a typical Thanksgiving meal are still invited for a nightcap of bourbon and s’mores after dark, she said.

As the number of positive coronavirus cases has continued to surge in Anne Arundel County and across the state, state and local leaders have urged people to cancel plans to help slow the spread of the virus.

Gov. Larry Hogan made a public show of canceling plans to see his three daughters, three sons-in-law and four grandchildren. Hogan said he expects to eat dinner alone with his wife, Yumi, Maryland’s first lady.

“I am taking my own advice,” Hogan said earlier this month.

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said he too is staying put this week at the advice of public health officials who warn that local hospitals are maxing out their capacity due to the surge in cases.

“My wife and I are having a small family gathering. We aren’t going out of town. We don’t have anyone coming in from out of town,” Buckley said Monday in his monthly update during the Annapolis City Council meeting. “Our health department is urging people to do the same in order to keep our health system and our hospitals from filling up in the days leading up to Christmas and New Year’s.”

Other residents have taken the directive. A social media post in the Facebook group Eastport Neighborhood Forum last week showed nearly 75 people responding to a question of whether they were staying home for Thanksgiving “or meeting family outside with masks and distancing.” The vast majority wrote they were staying home, though a few said they weren’t swayed by the governor’s directive.

“Who is at my dinner table is no one’s business,” read one comment. The governor “won’t change my plans,” read another.

Arnold resident Yasemin Jameson said this year will be the first time in her life she will be responsible for cooking the turkey and stuffing on Thursday. Her mother-in-law usually handles the weighty task, but because they won’t be seeing each other, the job falls to Jameson, she said.

While she’s nervous about cooking the turkey, Jameson said her mother-in-law offered to help her through the process over a Zoom call.

“I’m just gonna wing it,” she said.

Eastport couple Pat and Mary Stroop are celebrating their first Thanksgiving alone since 1974.

Advertisement

In the past 45 years, the Stroops have either celebrated with their children at home, or traveled to Arizona, Connecticut or nearby Crofton, to spend time with their three boys and seven grandchildren. But this year, they all agreed the risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was just too risky, Pat Stroop said.

“We’re just a little concerned, not so much that we’ll get sick but, you know, something might happen that would pass it on to one of the kids and that would just devastate us,” he said.

They made the final call to stay home about a week ago.

Mary Stroop ordered a pre-cooked meal from Blackwall Hitch in Eastport and plans to pick it up Thursday morning. She is also cooking up some sauerkraut to go with their turkey; the fermented cabbage dish is a staple at Baltimore Thanksgiving tables. A can of corn and some extra dressing from Graul’s Market in Annapolis, and the meal will be complete, she said.

“We are going to eat in the dining room, and get the good China out, and pretend,” she said. “That’s the 2020 Thanksgiving and we hope in 2021, we’ll be back in our routine.”

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement