In a city where holidays are particularly important, some New Yorkers have planned solitary celebrations due to a ban on gathering.
Although her mother lives in Arizona, Cecily Smith usually spends Thanksgiving in New York City with friends who feel like family.
For a few years they shared vacation dinners in lively restaurants. Another time they held potlucks in cramped apartments and exchanged recipes and traditions. More recently, wife has. Smith helped cook an eclectic menu to celebrate a Nigerian friend’s first Thanksgiving day.
But with the country in the grip of a growing pandemic, woman. Smith will be spending Thanksgiving alone in her Harlem apartment this year, making cocktails and watching Netflix. Your friends, she said, are planning the same thing.
« I know I’ll be lonely, » said Ms.. Smith, 46, who has lived in town for about 20 years. “It’s lonely. This is a very lonely experience. ”
The pandemic changed vacation schedules in the United States this year. But in a busy city where traditions often go beyond family to bring friends, acquaintances, casts and transplants to the table, loneliness can be particularly gnawing.
Being alone in New York City for Thanksgiving means being aware of the once lively scene that no longer waits on the other side of the door.
With a second wave, officials have urged Americans not to travel, Gov. . Andrew M. . Cuomo limited private gatherings to 10 people for the foreseeable future, and Mayor Bill de Blasio pleaded with people to skip the overcrowded celebrations that generally mark the holiday.
A number, if not all, of townspeople will heed these warnings and will cancel their annual home pilgrimages. Others who tend to stay – whether for economic reasons or to avoid questioning relatives about their career prospects, rent payments, and love life – have canceled or changed their long-term plans.
On Thanksgiving, a holiday marked by getting together, many city dwellers now face the difficult prospect of being alone and isolated in a place where the social nature is a major concern.
« I’m out of work, broke and alone, » said Pemberton Roach, a musician who usually books concerts on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, a busy night out for nightlife.
With venues closed, the pandemic has Mr. . Roach is unemployed and his typical meeting with friends has been canceled because one of the hosts has Covid-19. « Instead, I’ll most likely eat hot dogs and drink a bottle of Jim Beam at my coffee table, » he said.
The city’s staple foods will also be lacking. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade cut its route to one block, putting an end to the sidewalk crowds and balloon-watching parties. Cinemas, long an antidote to vacation loneliness, remain closed. Restaurants have limited capacity, a rain forecast does not favor outdoor dining, and many people continue to feel uncomfortable indoors.
Even the best alternative plans have fallen apart. With the pandemic never fully subsiding, 32-year-old Kelsey O’Hara never expected to leave her Brooklyn home and go to her parents’ orchard in Pennsylvania this Thanksgiving Day. Instead, she and some friends planned a smaller meal at Bay Ridge, with all participants having to test negative for coronavirus beforehand.
woman. O’Hara tested negative last Wednesday. Two days later, the gathering host canceled the celebration and decided that the risk of exposure was still too high.
woman. O’Hara – who also spent her birthday this week alone – tried unsuccessfully to find a new arrangement. She’s not sure if a last minute meeting is even worth the risk.
« I’m afraid of being alone, » said Dr. . Said O’Hara. « But I don’t know what the other option is? Possibly get sick? »
New York City residents have reported facing pandemic-related loneliness and isolation since March, when officials shut down the city and state.
Dr. . Victoria Ngo, professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Policy, conducted a survey of 1. 000 New Yorkers who found that 35 to 45 percent were at risk for depression and anxiety in the months that the pandemic occurred peaked in the city.
The holidays also generally brought increased mental health risks for those who will spend them on their own, she added.
« They think I should have a family, I should have friends, I should do all these happy things – it creates these kinds of expectations, » said Dr. . Said Ngo. « And then there is one disappointment that I think would make things difficult. ”
Dr. . Ngo encouraged people struggling with isolation to think about what they were grateful for and reach out to others, be it by phone, FaceTime, or Zoom.
The gap between vacation expectations and reality is likely to be widened by the pandemic. DR. Sidd Dalal, a Northwell Health resident, had planned to bring his fiancée to his family reunion for the first time this year.
Instead, Dr. . Dalal, 31, who is researching the neurological effects of Covid-19, will be alone in downtown Brooklyn picking up pre-cooked food from Trader Joe and possibly a fried chicken. His fiancée will be in Toronto with her family and his parents will be in a small Georgia town.
« Somebody new and important comes into my family, » he said of his fiancée. “I wanted to create this togetherness. ”
Nonetheless, as a health care professional researching the harmful effects of the virus, he felt it was important not to travel and take the risk of infecting yourself or your family.
Others were determined to accept the restrictions of the pandemic and see it in a different light. Geneva Thomas, 37, usually spends Thanksgiving with her mother, who is visiting New York City from Detroit. For the past few years the two have been shopping, cooking and trying to see a Broadway show.
woman. Thomas’ mother died last November. This year’s celebration is her first alone. But the pandemic’s restrictions eased pressures to attend a gathering and instead allowed her to mourn privately, she said.
woman. Thomas declined invitations and planned to spend the vacation at her apartment in Weehawken, N. J. . and cooked the dishes her mother had made.
« I only make a plate for my mother and myself and make music – her favorite artist is Luther Vandross, » said Dr. . Said Thomas. « And I’ll just think and hope for a cure. ”
Tanen Clark, who moved to Manhattan from Connecticut three years ago, also focused on the silver lining. She was disappointed not to be spending the vacation in Chicago with her family to eat ball of noodle and turkey, but excitedly searched Instagram for a fancy meal to order at a restaurant.
When she got lonely, woman. Clark, 31, said she could always step outside her apartment on the Upper East Side, where the hustle and bustle of New York City meant she had to see some people.
We want to know how you would (or not) want to celebrate this year – maybe cook a meal for one, decorate your home, or just find ways to distract yourself. Your name and comments may be published, but your contact information will not. A reporter or editor can contact you to learn more about your story.
Thanksgiving, New York, Directive
World News – AU – The Truth About Thanksgiving Alone In New York City
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