Thanksgiving weekend plans upended as Albertans heed call for smaller gatherings

Thanksgiving dinner preparations became a little more complex for many Edmontonians as plans for what to cook evolved to include new considerations about who to dine with and whether to travel.

On Friday, people took advantage of the indoor lineup area at the Bountiful Farmers Market in south Edmonton, where they wanted to buy fresh produce and to pick up previously ordered turkeys.

Mary Ellen Gruenberg, co-owner of Green Eggs and Ham Family Farm, was happy to see people coming in and buying root vegetables for their family dinners.

“We started off with a bang today. People are buying very differently this year,” she said.

Her packages of vegetables for roasting and turkey soup have been selling well so far.

“They’re buying them to give to family members because they’re not in their cohort,” Gruenberg said.  “They’re keeping individual families together but sharing their meals.”

Mary Ellen Gruenberg, co-owner of Green Eggs and Ham Family Farm, holds up bags of produce. She says customers are buying them to give to friends and family on Thanksgiving. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

That kind of planning is in line with Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s latest message to the province’s residents. On Thursday, the province’s chief medical officer of health urged Albertans to not have large family events this weekend after 364 new COVID-19 cases were reported, setting a new daily record.

“Now is not the time to be gathering in large groups, travelling long distances for the holidays or sharing food or utensils,” Dr. Hinshaw said. “Keep your Thanksgiving small, keep it safe and protect one another.”

Anna Millar was picking up groceries and a few items for a Thanksgiving meal over the weekend. She said the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Edmonton, along with the new voluntary health restrictions, have made her cautious.

“We have family out of town that we would normally travel to see for Thanksgiving, but we’ve decided not to do that this year,” Millar said. “We’ll have a quaint, few members of our family together for Thanksgiving. Keeping it small and outside, as safe as possible and not sharing food.” 

Karen Cook-Newbury had been hoping to get together with her brother’s family on the weekend but she knows plans can change and people need to be cautious if they’re not feeling well.

“We’re not quite sure if we’re going to do that at this point, so it’s fine. I usually don’t cook a turkey or anything anyway,” she said.

“We’re just going to see what Sunday brings and go from there.”

But, as many people at the market noted to CBC News, while the gatherings may be small, the meals will still be big as befits a traditional Thanksgiving feast.

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