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For most people this will be a different Thanksgiving, a day without the traditional celebrations of large family gatherings, a day with far too much leftover turkey as we attempt to keep some semblance of normality through the bounty of the table.  Even though those we care about the most may remain spread out across the country and social distancing is measured in hundreds of miles instead of six feet – there is still plenty to be grateful for.  We can be grateful for whatever health we are able to enjoy, for the memories of those whom we have lost over the years, and the prospect of a happier and hopeful 2021. 

We can be grateful for faith and science that has carried us through this most difficult time and that will allow us to rise up anew – refreshed and positive as the virus is slowly brought under control.  We can be hopeful that what seems to have separated us will now help us to heal and come together.  When we look in a mirror there will always be more that unites us than tears us apart.  We can be thankful that Mother Nature carries on with her work – the snow will be here soon, the crisp air will wake us in the morning, holiday lights will brighten our day, and the season of giving will have even more meaning this year.  We can be thankful that this crisis serves as a wake-up call – an alert that allows us to remember what is truly important: family, health, friends, traditions, and that our longing to bring all of those blessings together will be rewarded soon enough.

We can be immensely thankful for those tireless individuals who risked their own wellbeing so that we could continue on with our lives during this pandemic: doctors, nurses, grocers, cashiers, first responders, medical technicians, postal carriers, farmers, fisherman, cooks and chefs, servers, FedEx and UPS drivers, teachers, and those in the trades who still managed repairs when their safety was tested.   How would we have managed through this without them?  We can certainly be grateful for ZOOM – this is a gift that allowed us to work from home, stay connected with our families, and even talk with our health care providers when a person-to-person visit was not possible.

For restaurants, chefs, cooks, and servers – this is a particularly difficult holiday season.  Thanksgiving and Christmas Week, New Years Eve, Presidents Week, and Valentines Day are some of the busiest restaurant days of the year – especially during a season that has little to offer small restaurant businesses otherwise.  This year will not be the same.  We won’t see the elaborate holiday buffets, full dining rooms of families looking for a break from cooking at home, restaurants enjoying the seasonal increase in marriage proposals and planning for weddings, and of course those Santa visits to eager youngsters dressed up for the Christmas Eve buffet.   There will be less need for kitchens filled with cooks working overtime, and servers hoping to receive those extra generous gratuities that will make their family holiday season a little brighter.  Maybe it’s a good thing – maybe the industry needs to re-evaluate the importance of allowing their staff to be home with their own families during this time of the year and maybe those traditions of family kitchens filled with relatives trying to lend a hand at dinner will return as we collectively relish the way it once was.

Like other businesses, especially those small businesses that make up the backbone of our economy, this has been a catastrophic year.  Some closed their doors and will not reopen; others have struggled to hang on with hope of a better tomorrow.  Those who remain will be different when this is all over.  They may look different, offer a new product or service, and will certainly be aware that how they deliver those products or services to the public will be different.  They will need your support as never before.  Those who could not weather the storm should know that other opportunities will arise and they will need our encouragement and engagement as well.  We will be different in another year – different, but in many ways better, stronger, and more in tune with what needs to be done.

We may not enjoy those large gatherings at home or in restaurants this year, but we still know that the heart and soul of this season is all about appreciating what we have and looking forward to what will come next.  This can happen in your dining room, in your local restaurant, or breaking bread via a ZOOM call that brings everyone together to smile, laugh, and enjoy the moment, even if virtually.

Next year will require that we remain vigilant and patient.  It will require that we muster up the positive energy and courage to do what is right for our families, our neighbors, and ourselves.  This is a time to give thanks for those connections and to remain strong while science does its work and the world collectively takes another step towards winning this battle.

After we have persevered – whether it is the Spring, Summer, Fall or beyond – it may be time to ask:  “what have we learned and how will we act moving forward?” One thing for sure, we have all assessed and reassessed our priorities over the past few months – let us not forget what we learned in the process.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone; be safe, be well, love your family, cherish your friends, break bread and raise a glass, and let’s move through this as a stronger, more unified, compassionate country of 330 million people.  

PLAN BETTER – TRAIN HARDER

Harvest America Ventures, LLC

Restaurant Consultant

www.harvestamericacues.com  BLOG

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