Nine Not Terrible Things to Do for a Quarantine Thanksgiving

Months and months into quarantine, it's time to get creative.

Photo via ozgurcankaya/Getty Images

Yes, your traditional Thanksgiving is officially canceled and it’s awful. But after you’ve checked in with your family on Zoom and gone through the usual round of spilling food on your laptop and trying to communicate who needs to mute and who needs to un-mute, you’ll need something else to do. So after you’ve met up with the more outdoorsy members of your family for a hike, we humbly offer these nine things to do for a quarantine Thanksgiving. You’re welcome!

Write a novel

Since all of your friends tell you how hilarious and smart you are, maybe it’s time for you to finally join the long literary tradition of Boston wordsmiths. Put on a couple of pots of coffee (chunky cardigan and horn-rimmed glasses are optional, though encouraged) and bang out a quick 100,000 words. If you’re missing that “encouragement” usually dished out by relatives over holiday meals (Why don’t you have kids yet? Why aren’t you a successful novelist on a couch talking with Oprah?), consider signing up for Deborah Sosin’s remote GrubStreet course, “Befriend Your Inner Critic: Skills for a Productive Writing Practice.” Sosin teaches productivity tips gleaned by embracing that inner voice that nags you with: “you’re not good enough.” The class runs on December 12, which gives you enough time to start that screenplay, too.

Go for a run

To counteract (another) day of binge-eating, consider lacing up those sneakers and going for a run instead. While we all know that running in the cold just sucks, once you get past those first five frigid minutes, it’s not so bad. Promise. Consider hitting up Franklin Park for a 2.1-mile loop through the trees and around Scarboro Pond, and you can easily head off into the 65-acre oak forest if you’re not in a hurry to head back to reality any time soon. Because who is?

Pretend it’s summer

You know how Thanksgiving is the unofficial start to the holiday season, when people break out the decorations and a loop of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” becomes required listening? We encourage you to use the time-warping powers of turkey day to rocket through to summer 2021 instead. Lay out on a beach towel in your living room and position a hair dryer to blow hot air across your skin. Queue up the “Tahiti” episode of filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg’s Netflix series Moving Art and lose yourself in the blissful vistas of the island’s turquoise water and lush jungles. The trip is made even sweeter with a bottled Mai Tai from GrandTen Distilling, featuring a blend of rum, grapefruit juice, and house-made spirits.

Act like a kid again

You know how you’re still relegated to the kiddie table at family gatherings even though you’re well-past sippy cup years? It’s time to go all in on some childhood regression. Break out the footie pajamas, coloring books, and bowls of Fruity Pebbles as you burn through your favorite animated flicks on Disney+. Tip: They are never as good as you remember. Wine helps.

Become a seltzer sommelier

Instead of chugging White Claws and hiding in the bathroom from your Trumper aunt like you did last Thanksgiving, focus on hydrating with some non-spiked seltzers. Worcester-based Polar Seltzer dropped their winter 2020 collection last month, with returning favorites Blackberry Citron and Ginger Peach joining new flavors Concord Clementine, Grapefruit Melon Kiss, and Pomegranate Apple. How do these bubbling beauties pair with what you have in your half-empty fridge? You’ll find that the orange notes of Concord Clementine play off cold Stove Top Stuffing and Ocean Spray canned cranberry sauce (best enjoyed in its natural cylindrical shape). Wash down some Haribo peaches with a liter of Ginger Peach. The culinary possibilities are endless.

(Begrudgingly) embrace the present

Perhaps in the face of quarantine you’ve tried screaming into the void and eating your feelings and neither helped much. Is it time to (gulp) anchor yourself in the present and practice some mindfulness? Try tamping down your anxiety with a free half-hour intro to breathwork class hosted by certified breathing coach Noah Trofimow of the Boston-based mental health org the Paper Bag Mask Foundation. The guided breathing meditation, held via Google Hangouts on the day after Thanksgiving, is aimed at calming the mind and body. With any luck it’ll offer a respite from your teeth-gnashing.

Spring for some (safe) retail therapy

It goes without saying that you should stay away from malls this Black Friday. As American a tradition as it is to throw elbows over the latest PlayStation at a crowded Target, try treating yourself to a more subdued, outdoor shopping day in the Seaport. Currently at the Current pop-up retail neighborhood is the first retail store of hair color company Madison Reed, along with sweets by the Weymouth-founded Cupcake Mojo, New England-inspired bag boutique Harvey Traveler, and other shops. Plus, you can enjoy winter activities and holiday decorations as you stroll the fresh air of the outdoor wonderland, which is a welcome break from boredom-buying from Amazon on your phone. Besides, if you’re buying from your phone, you should be shopping local, anyway.

Savor some drama

Radio drama, that is. Get vintage with the free radio drama performances by Boston troupe the Post-Meridian Radio Players. Their original pieces include homages to pulp adventure stories of the golden age of radio, like The Silver Shade, about a school teacher with superpowers, and adaptations of classic plays. They also love to serve some subversion, like gender-swapped retellings of Star Trek episodes. It’s a flashback to a simpler time, and if your vacuum-tube radio is in the shop, listening on your phone is fine.

Become an amateur film critic

Don’t have the stamina to do much else besides watch TV this week? No problem! If you deep-dive into the catalogue of one actor—say, world wonder Nicole Kidman—you can even call it an unpaid internship in media studies. Just make sure you drop as many critical-sounding buzzwords in your FaceTime conversations with family as you can: Your relatives should know you’ve learned what mise en scene is. Maybe you haven’t left the couch in three days, but you’re celebrating the mélange of emotions that is Kidman’s oeuvre, from the 2018 harrowing LAPD crime thriller Destroyer to her meditative turn as Virginia Woolf in 2002’s The Hours. And catch up on her latest HBO limited series, The Undoing, when the final episode airs on November 29.