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Missing family during a COVID Thanksgiving

Michele Flynn helps make pumpkin pies at her son Andrew’s house in Saranac Lake prior to Thanksgiving in 2015. (Provided photo — Andy Flynn)

My wife Dawn and I will be spending Thanksgiving together this year, which is no different than any other day during this pandemic year, which has seen lockdowns, job loss, weight gain, isolation and lack of social activity in our household.

We won’t be spending time with family this year during the holidays, not that we have any choice. Dawn’s mother passed away several years ago, and her father is living at the Mercy nursing home in Tupper Lake.

My mother is in lockdown at Saranac Village at Will Rogers, and I’ve opted not to see her through a window talking on a cellphone. I can talk to her on a cellphone at home. I’ve been lucky to see her outside a few times this year when that was allowed — 6 feet apart and no hugs.

In recent years, my mother spent Thanksgiving and Christmas days at our house, spoiling our dogs Minnie and Mickie; Minnie died in October of last year, and Mickie died in October 2016, so there’s not even a set of paws running around the house anymore.

We don’t have children, just each other. Life in a small house during isolation is, well, let’s just say we tend to get on each other’s nerves more often than during non-pandemic years.

I’ve been working from home for the most part since the pandemic began in March. That’s when Dawn lost her job in the mail room at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and Lake Placid News. And all three of my part-time jobs dried up as COVID-19 spread.

So far we’ve been able to pay the mortgage, but with only one income and a long, expensive winter to heat the house and another surge in the coronavirus without a vaccine, we’re just holding on like many other families in the same situation.

I’m thankful for my job. I’m thankful my wife and I have each other. I’m thankful that our family members are staying healthy and nobody has contracted COVID-19.

My mom and I didn’t cook much together over the years, but several years ago we made pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving. I’m not a big holiday person, but that memory sticks out as a highlight.

I miss those times when my mom spoiled our dogs with food, carefully setting aside turkey on her plate before tossing bits and pieces to the floor. Sometimes I only think she came over for holidays just to see her granddogs.

We’ll be spending a lot more time on the phone this Thanksgiving talking to family members in the Tri-Lakes and across the country. We’ll stay connected, but it’s not the same.

Let’s hope things will change for the better a year from now and we can make pies together again.