OPEN THREAD: What Are You Doing Today, Are You Okay?

Hi, what’s up! What are you doing today? Are you okay?

I’m going to be honest, I can’t believe we didn’t collectively cancel Thanksgiving 2020. I can’t believe we continue to not cancel… everything during This Pandemic Year? I am not the biggest fan of Thanksgiving as a holiday (who can possibly be a fan of a “holiday” based on genocide, lies, and the continued oppression of Native people?) but I have always spent the time off work and school with family or friends. Sometimes that was nice, sometimes it was decidedly not nice, but at least I was attempting something that felt like community building, like community care.

In 2020, community care means staying away from everyone you love. The simplest solution to me seems like canceling Thanksgiving. And yet I know that for many of us, it’s more complicated. You have family members who begged you to come home. You co-parent kids and their other parent(s) wanted to do something. You work at a grocery store and you’ve had to hand out turkey after turkey this week. You actually don’t usually celebrate this day and always spend it luxuriously alone, but somehow that feels different during a year of epic loneliness. This year has been soaked in grief and honestly it does not look to be letting up anytime soon. I feel like almost everyone I know is experiencing some deep personal grief these days, and we are, collectively, experiencing so much loss it is hard to actually fathom. Whatever you are or are not doing today, I think it promises to be kind of a challenge. And the year will probably continue to be challenging, and honestly next year will be too.

I don’t know, I have been trying to write this post for a few hours and I just really don’t know what else to say! But I want to make this space exist, where we can all feel our feelings together.

So. How are you? How’s your heart? How’s your brain? How’s your spirit? Are you by yourself today? With a pod? Grateful to avoid family? Missing home? Did you make anything delicious? Did you drop anything off at your local free fridge resource? (Do other cities have these or is it just Portland?) Are you angry? Sad? Miraculously somewhat happy? Let’s be here together, apart — the safest way to show community care this year.

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Vanessa is a writer, a teacher, and the community editor at Autostraddle. Very hot, very fun, very weird. Find her on twitter and instagram.

Vanessa has written 404 articles for us.


  1. I had several invitations to various Thanksgivings (thankfully all small, 3 to 4 other people, but still) and turned them all down in favor of sitting here in my sweatpants, eating leftover Chinese takeout from last night, doing some writing (messy romantic situation!) and reflecting (thinking of selling my house to an indigenous land trust!), and later treating myself to watching Happiest Season.

    But before I get to the rest of my day, I have to say… Vanessa, every sentence of this hit me right in the feels. Where did you find these words? I have no idea, but I’m glad you did

    • I am a receptionist at a doctor’s office, and we are all highly discouraged from travelling or seeing folks outside our pods. We have to use PTO if we do so, and I simply do not have enough PTO to even consider “going home,” (and I don’t think I would anyways, out of concern for the well-being of my roommates).

      However, all of these roommates have other plans today– one is visiting family elsewhere, another is seeing her boyfriend’s family who are staying in a hotel here, and my third roommate is staying with her boyfriend until both of these roommates have negative covid tests. It was always the plan for me to call my family today– probably not on zoom because my parents are a little bit afraid of it, probably, and also definitely not during a Thanksgiving meal. However, my roommates who are still in the city and I were supposed to have a friendsgiving on Friday. Now, with one of them quarantining away, that’s definitely not happening. I definitely respect everyone’s choices with all of this, but I just wished they had made them sooner so I could have a more robust plan of attack for a solo Thanksgiving. I am planning spending the day cooking and reading the books I have from the library, and tomorrow I am talking with another friend from college. I am trying to make the best out of this, but I can’t pretend that I am not pissed off by this situation.

  2. Thank you for this.

    Yesterday was my birthday, and so much grief and sadness caught up to me. I just so badly wanted to bring together and be surrounded by my friends, unencumbered. As a twin, I am especially accustomed to my birthday being a day of sharing, and of celebrating close others. I don’t think I have ever missed my twin or friends so sharply.

    For the many of us whose sense of safety in this world was already compromised pre-covid, I mourn the dimension of safety we have lost this year. That and the limits and conditions on access to vital communities. This year has forced me to lean further than ever before into behaviors that are also trauma responses I had been making effort to unlearn, or at least tweak to make less self-destructive. It is hard to heal from within PTSD with this very real, heightened sense of ambient danger and isolation.

    Gratitude and grief and longing bounced around in me, and the word “bittersweet” kept coming to mind. I made myself a birthday cake, and it stuck to the cake pans and broke apart. I was a bit upset, though not really even about the cake. I patched it together with buttercream and thought of all of the other things I wish I could fix, or even know how to.

    • Sending love and belated birthday wishes ~

      Beautifully expressed too ~ here’s to finding your own ways of mending and healing

  3. On a normal Thanksgiving, I’d wake up, get coffee, and settle onto the couch to watch the Macy’s parade on TV. Later in the day, Later I’d bring food over to Angela’s where we all make a part of the meal and settle in for a long evening of good friends, food, and wine (lots of wine lol).

    Unfortunately, this year that’s not happening so it’s had me really bummed. I haven’t really seen many of them since this pandemic started. Anyway, so what to do today.:.

    I’m going to watch the Macy’s day parade and have coffee. Then cook for a while before dropping off food to my friends. We decided that since were aren’t able to get together that we’d drop food off at each other’s doorsteps with a little personal note to celebrate each other and look forward to better times. After that, I haven’t decided. I’ll probably zoom a bit and finish the night by watching Happiest Season.

  4. The wife and I had cinnamon rolls the size of our heads this morning. If I actually acknowledge anything real about this moment, I’m not going to be able to make it, but cinnamon rolls the size of my head? I can do that.

  5. I’m not in the US but wanted to say that I really appreciate this, Vanessa. I love open threads and the sense of community connection and care!

    Tonight after work I’m

  6. Oops!

    Tonight after work I’m planning on watching this:

    “Catalina La O Presenta explores the life of khattieQ and of female Puerto Rican singing legends Myrta Silva and Ruth Fernández, among others. Catalina La O Presenta is a piece for the queer communities. It is a piece for the colonized body. It is a piece for Puerto Rico. It is a piece for anyone who has experienced heartbreak. It is a piece for survivors. It is a piece that speaks to resistance.
    A performance film by Shanae Sodhi and JK JK
    Story by khattieQ and Jenny Larson
    Music by khattieQ and Anton Berríos”

    Here’s a preview clip:

    It looks fantastic!

    I know I often post links to performances/ shows…I just see and love them and think that some here may too!

      • Update: it was soooo good!
        It was such a journey of changing emotions, with such energy and so much queer beauty 💜💜💜 the transformations of tone were amazing. It’s available online until the 29th November if anyone is wondering!

  7. My gf and I decided to treat thanksgiving as the “first day of Christmas” and put up decorations, wrap presents, and watch Happiest Season later. We also ordered meals from a local vegan place and I’m psyched to eat some fake turkey etc. Oh and I’m going to bake pumpkin muffins in a bit!

    Also, Austin has a free fridge too! We like to take excess veggies there when our CSA has too much of one veggie or something we aren’t really into that week.

  8. Fortunate to be having a blissful quiet Thanksgiving-for-two with my partner. Also watching Friendsgiving for the second time! Can’t believe I just discovered this film yesterday.. it’s the queerest holiday movie I’ve ever seen (just released Oct. 2020)! Directed by Nicol Paone and starring Wanda Sykes, Fortune Feimster, Margaret Cho, Jane Seymour (!!), Kat Dennings as a believable just-dumped lesbian, Aisha Tyler, and a series of dykes spoofing Lex ads. Much gayer and way more enjoyable and silly than Happiest Season (which I was really looking forward to.. but it was ultimately a depressing letdown depicting an unhealthy relationship w/ zero chemistry). Highly recommend Friendsgiving if you want some raunchy escapist queer humor!

  9. Not in the US so Thanksgiving is not An Thing for me, but.

    After taking on a new (additional) role at work, I’ve been identified as a potential First Responder to employee disclosures that they’re living with domestic abuse. As part of this, I’ve been on a workshop to train me to identify and respond appropriately.

    It’s a Good Thing. It’s solidly one of the things that reminds me that my employer is pretty damn good, for a capitalist overlord.

    As a survivor of exactly this thing, it’s also exhausting and a little triggering. I seem to be surpremely and unusually vulnerable right now.

    But it’s a good thing. And today when I came home my current (lovely) partner had taken the time to make the house spotless before heading out for some late work, so that I could spend the evening making art to decompress from it all.

    I am reminded that for all life can be difficult, and especially right now, life can be so, so good.

  10. I was inspired by the Call Your Girlfriend podcast to reach out to friends with handwritten gratitude letters. My partner made healthy burritos and brownies from scratch and I honestly don’t miss the traditional meal with conservative family members. I miss them as people but am still reckoning with heartbreak over their refusal to renounce The Orange Narcissist. Grateful that this community shares my values!

    • “Reckoning with heartbreak.” Yes. This is the first thanksgiving I haven’t talked to my bio family on the phone, even though we’ve been distant for some time. (All evangelical Trump loving Christians). The boundaries seem especially tender and important this year.

  11. We’re in Australia, so we don’t celebrate thanksgiving. Our son died last week so we are filled to the brim with grief. There haven’t been any covid cases in our city for about 6 months or so, so I’m not worried about gathering in that sense, but I feel exhausted by every small interaction with someone. On the other hand, being alone is also very sad.

  12. Also not in the US, so no Thanksgiving holiday for me … instead a normal exhausting work day. BUT afterwards some quality cuddle time with the cats, fire place is roaring which means comfort zone inside and outside! Plus i ll be watching Happiest Season. Might try “Friendsgiving” too, sounds fun.
    And yes, despite all the s**t that’s going on in the world i strongly believe we all can find positive aspects somewhere … even if they are tiny. Community like this for example. Stay strong, stay healthy!

  13. I’m the dyke at my food co-op handing out turkey after turkey ~ I’m going for a walk with a friend in an hour & have a call planned with my friend/lover today. And thank goddess cuz this family-centered holiday never does good things for my head.

    • That sounds tiring but good to avoid all the family stuff-I can relate a bit and hope your walk is nice and refreshing

  14. For Thanksgiving we usually have a family and friends dinner. This year my roommate and I are going to cook a lowkey vegetarian meal. It’ll be different but also good. I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving or a great day if not celebrating.

  15. I was riding on a trail new to me Sunday & survived it(loose, dry & narrow). As I was riding back home a speed bump did me in & chipped a few teeth, a stitch on my upper lip & a bruised ego(speed bump on the flat road did me in not the trail). I am thankful no broken bones or pain. On the upside my teeth will look a little whiter thanks to veneers. I’ve also caught up on sleep due to being off work for 3 days.

    Oh since being home I’ve seen a lot ads featuring cis lgbq couples. Including a lesbian E-Harmony ad featuring two woc eating ice cream lovingly at home on the couch! We need more these types of ads.

  16. So this year, on turkey day, I am recovering from bottom surgery (I’m MTF and now with a brand new, tender, and very slowly healing cooch). To be honest, even though there are cares taken not to bring COVID into my life, it’s been the time I’ve seen people the most. Friends who come to help with laundry, food, and carrying out the trash. But, it’s still a nostalgic time. Like, neither me nor many of my friends celebrate thanksgiving, but we do usually have a pot luck and roast. You see, I’m from Newfoundland in Canada where our big dinner is a Sunday roast called a Jigs Dinner. It’s your average Turkey dinner with potatoes, carrots, turnips, stuffing and gravy. But also with salt beef (kinda gross, tbh), peas pudding, and a yummy sweet blueberry pudding (my friends tease me for having sweet dessert like cake with gravy and savory foods but trust me it’s fucking yum). So it’s kind of sad that all of us Ottawa queers can’t come together to break bread, share love, and have a big snuggle party while we digest all that yummy jigs food. I do have something to be happy with though, I have a vagina which came into my life 31 years late. And even though it’s healing, it’s fucking amazing and has kept me in super high spirits. So I hope my fellow gays out there have something to keep them happy during all of this global crisis and the dangers of pandemic. Stay safe, stay loved, stay well. <3

    • Hello fellow Ottawa queer! *waves*

      I’ve been here for about a year and haven’t found too many queers in the wild, so excited to see you across the Internet.

      And wishing you a smooth recovery from surgery!

      • Ahhhhhhhh FELLOW OTTAWA QUEER HELLO! There aren’t as many of us in Ottawa as there should be <3 <3 Lol, tbh, I'm moving to Montreal asap.

        Thank you so much though! Recovery has been challenging so far, but way more smooth than I had anticipated!

  17. I’m alright for the present. In 7.5 hours I will be at work doing night audit at a hotel here in the Vail Valley. I must confess that I’m worried that ski season will hit the skids again this year due to Covid. The customers represent a definite weak link in the Covid chain, but the employees may be a weaker link than I had thought. I was speaking to an employee shuttle driver last night and, despite all of VR’s Covid training everyone had to take, apparently people have been taking their masks off to chat in the shuttles. Thankfully I work the overnight and the shuttles to and from work are empty except for me. Still worrying as I can’t afford for the resort to shut down. Thanks, capitalism, for putting profits before lives, you failure of economics.

  18. I’m having a hard time; this is the first holiday since I lost my dad and am estranged from other family. I’m taking it easy on myself, watching shitty movies, gonna try to cook soon. Grateful for so many things but struggling to not get bogged down with the sad shit. Sending love and good thoughts to all y’all cool cuties

    • The first round of holidays and anniversaries are the hardest, @madmorris. After my dad passed, we became very traditional about incorporating the things he loved into our ongoing holiday traditions.

      I hope you find some peace.

  19. I was fine until 10 minutes ago when my dad FaceTimed me into the family Thanksgiving dinner to tell “funny” stories/jokes that were sexist, homophobic, and not funny. He doesn’t realize how much of a misogynist he is. He also don’t realize how much of a narcissist he is. Having a parent with narcissistic personality disorder is really hard, y’all.

    • Ughhh hope things improved after.

      I was thinking of you and how difficult this year must be with where you live and being in the arts. Hope you’re doing ok~ 🌻

  20. I don’t live in the US, I didn’t even realize it was Thanksgiving until later today, my bad.
    Anyways, I was just crying, I came to the website to see if there were some articles to lift me up and look at what I’ve found!

    Holidays are always particularly hard for me, being apart from my family and all (Not because of COVID, but because of Immigration, oh how great it is to be Venezuelan!), PLUS not taking care of myself lately and being stuck on the bed feeling super useless…well, it’s a downer. Oh boy, what I would give to be with my family right now.

    I just really gotta get back on track and start doing some self-care in order to survive, I just don’t have the energy to do so now.

    If anyone reads this: I hope the holidays bring you a feeling of calm, joy, and overall comfort. Stay safe.

  21. Really missing my grandmother it’ll be two years since she passed this coming December.
    She was a November baby and no body could make to her grave for All Saints Days this year but I did my usual ritual for the dead at midnight with a freshly made card just for her.
    Today was a good day I finally made the spice apples with pecans a dried blueberries. It was better than I had even imagined

    At some point AS should maybe do a round up of donation links etc for First Nations not for covid relief but like a bi-annual event. Give whoever’s working on such projects enough time to verify stuff or what.

  22. You know, today sucks. I’ve been alone on holidays before, but they usually don’t bum me out so much, I think it’s because of what an utter shit show this entire holiday has been.

    (oh and there’s the fun part where my mother and possibly my grandmother have gotten COVID because another Trump-loving relative and their spouse weren’t feeling well and still exposed them! Truly a series of inexplicable decisions were made by all parties, it really makes me tired.)

    So I’ve been treating today like it’s any other day, and have just spent the whole day in my office doing grad school homework and being quite sad, honestly. It’s like all the shit that this year has been came down today.

    It’s been something.

  23. So many of you here are having such a hard time and I really just want to reach through space and offer you tea, hugs, love and/ or whatever else would give you some measure of comfort. I see you hurting and struggling and trying to hold it together and dealing with it all, and it’s hard, I see how hard it is.

    Sending all the love ~ pouring it out for you. I’m glad you’re here, you, each and every one of you 💜

  24. Ugh. This holiday has been way harder than I imagined. We made the best of it but we aren’t with our chosen family, my bio family voted for trump, and I just came out publicly as non-binary dyke last week. My kids are jumping off the walls, wife and I are distant. And yet, the moon is bright and beautiful. Using nature to heal all the wounds. And maybe a little CBD/THC tincture.

  25. 11/26

    Today, my broken family
    Did not hold hands to pray because we are close but separate
    The same root but yet now there is distance we break through in anxious, defiant bursts with embraces and yet
    We are what we fear; we are not “we” any longer but “I” and them and we do not want to harm each other because even though time has led us away from being clustered together in a nest of feathers and comfortable agreement of the exact way we live, we are the most precious ones, or were, and though we cannot cling to the sameness we can cling to the memory of it. We remember loving simply and wholly each-other, and hope this can be enough.

    My grandmother (my Love!) is states away, and we are all lonely and lost and sometimes also alone– but today she is not. Today she is warm, and embraced in my mother’s arms, and safe from despair.

    My patient is alone today.
    “Thanksgiving is cancelled for now. My son and his whole family have COVID. I’m alone.”
    “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for calling you today. I’m sorry you had to drive all the way here just to see me on Thanksgiving. Thank you.”

    In gloves and gowns and masks and face shields and complete costuming hiding my features, I squeeze the shoulder of my elderly patient goodbye in a gloved hand.

    My family is not us. We do not hold hands to pray, but, today my patient reached up and quickly grasped my gloved hand on her shoulder in fervor, clinging to me, holding my hand in reverence. She held my hand to her shoulder, not letting go.

    She squeezed gently indicating she was willing finally able to let go, as my family used to do to end our prayer and trust that the gratitude was heard.

    “Thank you,” she whispered, voice cracking. “It was so nice to see someone on Thanksgiving”.

  26. Today I went to afternoon tea to meet my girlfriend’s mum for the first time and ended up shut in a room with 9 of her relatives for 5 hours. It was just too much and I am just completely exhausted. My city only got out of hard lockdown recently, and meeting so many new people at once was overwhelming. My girl warned me her mum liked making a fuss out of people but this was an ambush. Big family dynamics are a thing I do not understand.

  27. As I don’t live in the US, Thanksgiving is not even a thing here, and thankfully, for Christmas, I am meeting up with the 3 other family members allowed that I always spend Christmas with anyway, and as I am not a Christian and Christmas is really just an excuse to eat fancy food and give each other presents, I don’t feel like I am missing community here. What I do struggle with, of course, is the knowledge that if we didn’t live in a capitalist hellscape that literally shits on human lives, so many people who died (among them several family members of very good friends) would still be alive today. And that fear of myself losing family members or friends. Not knowing who will be next. Not knowing if I, with my cerebral palsy, belong to a risk group and should therefore be extra afraid. Knowing that several of my disabled friends do indeed belong to a risk group and have been hard-core self-isolating since March. Knowing that other countries who deal with this so much better are so much closer to a kind of normality than we are. Grieving. Not knowing when I will see my heart person again, someone who I did not even confess my feelings to yet as they are so confusing and weird, not knowing if these feelings are returned and not being able to simply explore our relationship to each other organically bc they live in a different country and their parents are high-risk patients and holy fuck will I ever be able to see this person again? Will one of us get sick before? Will our love for each other be able to withstand the distance? How the fuck did I take the freedom to travel for granted for so long? I just hope we are going to be able to tell each other how we feel while not making Zoom calls or WhatsApp chats super awkward. Or maybe I should just wait until seeing each other is possible again? So many doubts. But at least I am allowing myself hope, and I am allowing myself plans to see them and all my friends again since a vaccine seems to be in the kind of foreseeable future? At the same time, what a luxury to be able to do that! given that so many countries will have to wait for a vaccine for years bc we live in a shitty world.

  28. Spent my first Thanksgiving with my significant other since coming out. We, and our blended 6 children, had a great day and ate some great food. No family outside of our household was nice and we felt relaxed all day

  29. A bit late to the discussion, but, I’ve been busy. Seriously, I’m glad “vacation” is over, and I’m back at work.

    Thanksgivings are usually just the two of us anyway, but this time, it felt extra small. A feeling due to loss of some family — some permanently, some by choice — and just the inability to be with those who remain, even if we wanted to.

    Nonetheless, we did as we always do — we built stuff together. We spent 11 days working on our outdoor kitchen. That involved learning how to pour concrete, and operate a tile saw, amongst other things. It was tiring, and often frustrating, but an effective and worthwhile distraction.

    Still working on editing the videos for youtube, so please enjoy this piece of tile I hated cutting in the meantime:

    Do not fret. It wasn’t all physical labor and cussing. I also made a pecan pie.

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