A different kind of holiday: Locals express gratitude through quiet Thanksgiving


NORTH SMITHFIELD – The holidays will be a hard time for local families, kept apart by more than nine months of pandemic-focused separation.

On this Thanksgiving holiday, many of us will opt for small celebrations following urgent warnings from state and federal health officials. Families kept apart – maybe for the first time ever – will wish each other well via Zoom, cooking tiny turkeys and longing for years past.

Local officials are no exception. As we all try to keep a smile on our faces and a sense of gratitude in our hearts, it may help to know that we are sharing this experience.

We asked some in North Smithfield government how their celebrations will differ this year, and what they are thankful for, even in a holiday marked by isolation. Below are their responses, as well as one of our own.

“Like everyone, I hope, Thanksgiving dinner 2020 won’t require makeshift tables or even extra leaves in the dining room, which of course is disappointing. But it will be no less of a celebration because we are indeed fortunate that except for being together less often, our family has thus far escaped personal impact from the virus. Beyond that, this entire circumstance perhaps can be a reminder of how fortunate we have been year after year to be able to gather and appreciate family and friends to a point where maybe after we beat COVID-19 there is more joy in every future holiday.”

– Town Administrator Gary Ezovski

“I am spending Thanksgiving Day with my mother – 101 years old! I help care for her, along with my brothers and sisters, several times a week, so we have our own little family bubble that will be celebrating with her. That said, I will miss being with my husband, children and grandchildren as in past years, but everything is different this year and we make the best of it. So that sums up what I am most thankful for – family – the strength, the sharing, the caring, and the love that family circles provide. I am blessed!”

– School Committee Vice Chairperson Jean Meo

“Like everyone else, this pandemic is creating chaos and havoc to many people. Due to the requests of the governor, my wife and I will be staying home rather than traveling to see my children who live in Miami and Charlotte. This will also be the first holiday that I will not be sharing with my father who passed away earlier this year.

I am thankful that all of my family has remained healthy during the last 10 months and that I have been fortunate to not know one person who has contracted the COVID virus. I am feeling hopeful that the positive results of the vaccines being tested now will result in the pandemic’s hold on society being lessened. I am grateful that I continue to work as well as all of my children.

Lastly, I am thankful for all the support the residents in town have shown to the town workers who continue to do their jobs on a daily basis. This year has been like no other to many and I hope that it ends soon.”

– Town Council President Paul Vadenais

“For me, holidays are different this year because it won’t involve seeing my extended family – including my parents, who I haven’t seen since March. That said, the silver lining of this past year is that it’s made me so much more appreciative of the time I do get to spend with my friends and family. I’ve had time to slow down and reassess my priorities. Before the pandemic I was always on the go and always busy; my new normal is family-centric and I like it much better that way.”

– School Committee member Paul Jones

“Our Thanksgiving gathering will be much smaller this year due to COVID but we are so thankful that our immediate family is healthy and able to be together for the day.

Although these are difficult times, we need to be thankful for the soon to be released vaccine. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting much brighter. Our future holidays with friends and family will return to normal.

We need to be thankful for the little things in life that bring us joy,

Happy Thanksgiving.

Town Administrator-elect Paul Zwolenski

“Thanksgiving will be different for us this year because we usually spend it with my wife’s side of the family. It’s usually a large gathering with around 20 family members. However due to Covid the family will not be getting
together this year, which means her parents who are both in their 80’s
will be spending it alone. Usually we end the day by stopping by my
sisters house to spend a little time with my side but that will not be
happening this year either. So it looks like it will just be the three of us and Thanksgiving dinner will be like most dinners in our house any other time of year.

What I am thankful for is my family has managed to remain healthy and
everyone is doing well. My business was not hurt too bad and I did
manage to remain busy for the most part. I have several friends and
family members that came down with Covid-19 and I am thankful they all
came out of it OK. I am also thankful for getting elected to the Town
Council and getting another chance to serve the community.”

– Town Councilor-elect John Beauregard

“This Thanksgiving, we are thankful for many things. No matter how many problems there are in the world, it could always be worse. We pray and try to assist those who have had a more challenging year. On a typical Thanksgiving, we have a family dinner with my mother, sisters, and their families. This year, it will just be me, my wife, and the kids at our house for dinner. We look forward to future holidays when we can all celebrate together again.”

– School Committee Chairman James Lombardi

“I take great pride and comfort in having a very large, close-knit family that gets together often. Holidays are typically chaotic occasions with food for an army and leftovers for weeks. In 2019, I counted more than 40 relatives and extended family in my sister’s house.

In 2020, most of us will be celebrating in our individual households – and it’s not an easy decision. We thought up several plans over the summer months to try to get together, from renting large halls, to staying in separate rooms and keeping windows open, but ultimately, we need to stay safe and keep one another healthy.

I’m thankful that for the most part, so far, we are safe and healthy. I’m also thankful that I have been able to continue to grow my small business, and that despite set-backs, my friends and family members continue to be warm and fed, with roofs over their heads. Here’s to a better 2021.

– NRI  NOW Publisher Sandy Seoane 

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