Yet, despite safety warnings against traveling, news reports still show airports are becoming crowded with Americans flying for Thanksgiving. Locally, neighborhood message groups show residents looking for places to get coronavirus tests before traveling to see family, despite having no symptoms, leaving fewer tests available for those who are actually sick.
But staying home doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Here, we’ve compiled a list of 10 ways you can make the most out of staying home during this Thanksgiving break.
Who needs a huge home-cooked meal when you live in a city with so many fantastic restaurants still serving delicious takeout options? On our website last week, we featured a list of restaurants offering small takeout Thanksgiving options, including stuffed acorn squash from Sprezzatura in Millvale and lamb shank from Khalil’s in Bloomfield. If you missed the cut-off for ordering a meal on Thanksgiving Day, be sure to check out their offerings for the weekend. Local restaurants deserve our support more than ever during these times, and so do their employees. Don’t forget to tip well, even when getting takeout. Bonus: If you live alone and want to eat an entire pie yourself, there’s no one to judge you. And less dishes to wash!
2. Free art projects online for kids
The Pittsburgh Children’s Museum has launched a virtual version of its annual Tough Art program just in time to keep your kids from getting bored this Thanksgiving break. Five artists have created activities for kids to try at home for Tough Art @ Home 2020, including illustrating cartoon animals, painting with light, and creating a shadow puppet theater. Links to the Vimeo streams and materials needed can be found at pittsburghkidsdesign.org/tough-art-home-2020-artists.
If your Thanksgiving had a soundtrack, what would it sound like? We’re going to be toasting our cranberry cocktails to the sweet sounds of Motown, playing all day long on local independent radio station 91.3FM WYEP. Stay home and listen to the station starting at 6 a.m. when DJs Brian Siewiorek and The Soul Show’s Mike Canton (who also has a monthly Pittsburgh City Paper column) curate iconic hitmakers from the Motor City, including The Supremes and Marvin Gaye. “Let’s get it on,” Pittsburgh. Turkey, that is.
The rink at PPG Place has reopened for the season, marking one of the official signs of the holiday season in Pittsburgh. This year may look different than others, but they’ve been able to find a way to make it safe, and the fun holiday tradition continues. COVID-19 protocols include social-distance requirements while waiting in line, temperature checks, masks required at all times, and limited admission sizes. All ticketing is required to be prepaid online. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-midnight. PPG Place, Downtown. $8-11. $5, skate rental. ppgplace.com/directory/the-rink
5. 40 Years of Holiday Parades
For the past 40 years, local high school marching bands, mascots, and celebrities have marched through Downtown Pittsburgh in WPXI’s Holiday Parade on Thanksgiving weekend. While this year’s parade had to be canceled because of the pandemic, the station is going to instead air a two-hour special with highlights from the past two decades. Make a BINGO game of it, and play with your family and friends over Zoom. Here are a few ideas to get you started: Rick Sebak, synchronized dancers, the Pirates Parrot, An American Idol contestant, Santa Claus. 9-11 a.m. Sat., Nov. 28. WPXI-TV. wpxi.com
Since you’re choosing to keep your family safe by staying home for Thanksgiving, take it a step further and cancel Black Friday shopping at large, crowded shopping malls too. Instead, start hunting online from local artists and from local shops. We recommend checking out love, Pittsburgh (lovepittsburghshop.com; Downtown and Mount Washington) and Wildcard (wildcardpgh.com; Lawrenceville), two stores that both offer wares from local artists and curbside pick-up. If you have the weekend off, Small Business Saturday is this weekend, and Downtown Pittsburgh stores (downtownpittsburgh.com/shopopoly) are offering discounts from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
7. Enjoy a show at home
Skip the drama at a family gathering, arguing over the last dinner roll, or with stubborn relatives who refuse to put masks over their nose. Instead, save the theatrics for the pros. Here are four streaming performances worth your time this week, and if you’re quarantined with a partner, why not make a date night of it? If you’re missing the theater, dress up at home and set up a candlelight by your laptop.
Tales from a Safe Distance, a four-part opera presented by Decameron Opera Coalition, is a partnership between nine U.S. companies including Pittsburgh’s Resonance Works. Each company produced four episodes of one-act operas, based on a classic Italian story, The Decameron, a tale of 10 people quarantined together during the Black Plague. Continues through Dec. 31. $15. resonanceworks.org
Immersive theater company Quantum Theatre is presenting an encore presentation of Wild, a dark comic play based on the case of Edward Snowden. Nov. 27-Dec. 13. quantumtheatre.com
Alumni Theater Company brings Sharon G. Flake’s coming-of-age novel The Skin I’m In to the virtual stage, tackling colorism and self-worth. Nov. 27-Nov. 29. alumnitheatercompany.org
Hershey Felder, a pianist, actor, and playwright, has portrayed Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Leonard Berstein on stage. In an exclusive online event, Pittsburgh Public Theater brings Hershey Felder Presents: Backstory, with stories and music from his years working closely with family members of the three American artists. $40. Continues through Nov. 29. ppt.org
So, I hear we have a pretty good football team this year. The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently the only undefeated team left in the NFL. (Can you picture the entire city singing that relentless "Here we go Stillers, here we go, Pittsburgh's going to the Super Bowl" song through black-and-gold masks yet?) The Steelers were originally supposed to play the Ravens on Thanksgiving Day, but the NFL announced on Wednesday morning that the game has been switched to this weekend because of coronavirus issues. Now you can watch the game on Sunday at home instead, just as you could anywhere else you’d normally be for the holidays. But since you smartly chose to stay at home this Thanksgiving break, you don’t have to listen to any of your out-of-town relatives rooting for Baltimore. And if you don’t like football, then hey — you can change the channel! You’re home! You hold the remote! You are in control!
9. Giving Back
Did you save money on a plane ticket because you’re not traveling this year? Turnpike and gas? Decide that you don’t really need all those extra Thanksgiving sides and desserts since you’re just having a laid-back holiday at home with yourself or the few people in your household? Sweet. Look how much money you saved! If you’re one of the lucky people who’s still employed during the pandemic, how about donating the cash you saved to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank (pittsburghfoodbank.org) to help provide meals for families for the next holiday? Because I can’t think of a greater reason to stay home than to help keep our neighbors safe and healthy.
10. There’s Always Next Year
And that’s the end goal: to keep everyone safe and healthy to make sure that we’re all still here next year. So let’s call our loved ones and have a video chat over Zoom instead of seeing them in person this year for the holidays. Sure, there’s no way to predict the future, but, come on — we’ll have a real president then, so at least things can’t be worse next year than they are now, right? In the meantime, relax, throw on a pair of your most comfortable pajama pants — make ’em extra baggy if you’re having pie — and, if you’re going outside to pick up a six-pack of pumpkin beer before your holiday weekend, please don’t forget your mask.