Pandemic Forcing Us To Miss Family This Thanksgiving

November 23, 2020

This Thanksgiving, I’ll be without my dad’s cheese bread.

Pretty much every year that I can remember, I’ve eaten my dad’s cheese bread at least once. Growing up, we’d have it as a side dish when he made his “world famous” spaghetti sauce two or three times a year. And over the last 10 years, it’s become one of the staples at our Thanksgiving dinners, in large part because it’s particularly fantastic when you take two slices of the cheese bread and place ham in the middle.

But this year, my dad is one of several relatives who won’t be at my Thanksgiving table due to the coronavirus pandemic. If you told me back in mid-March—when we all realized the coronavirus was a serious problem—that more than eight months later, I still wouldn’t be able to see our loved ones without fear of infection, I wouldn’t have believed you. I wouldn’t have wanted to believe you. I would’ve thought cheese bread would still be on my table.

Initially, I planned to make the bread myself. But then my dad gave me the recipe and I knew instantly that wasn’t going to happen. You see, the cheese bread recipe isn’t something my dad found in a cookbook. He created it himself. You can tell by the way he told me the recipe just how much love and care goes into the dish. Buy French bread from the supermarket, but make sure it’s unsliced. Slice it yourself, 2 inches thick. No more, no less! Get a real stick of unsalted butter, but leave it out until it gets soft. Lawry’s! Sliced cheese! You butter the bread, add Lawry’s, cover with cheddar, put butter and Lawry’s on top. Do it in that EXACT order or you will ruin it!

And initially, I couldn’t even get him to tell me how long to cook it for. Until it’s melted just right! Finally, after forcing him to face disappointment that his own son didn’t know what “melted just right” looked like, he caved and told me to cook it for eight-to-10 minutes.

But in the end, it didn’t matter. Once I heard the way he talked about the recipe, I knew I wasn’t going to bother making it. It wouldn’t have come out the same. I would’ve messed it up somehow. I mean, it probably would’ve been ok—add butter and cheese to just about anything and it will taste OK—but for this, OK isn’t good enough. OK doesn’t do it justice. OK is just another reminder that the world around us is not OK.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m far luckier than many Americans right now. My family and I are healthy, we’re still employed and our Thanksgiving table will still have a couple of loved ones who have quarantined with us. I have much to be thankful for, especially given the circumstances. That said, this Thanksgiving—heck, this entire holiday season—is different for all of us. It’s much harder this year to focus on what we have and not on what we’ve lost. We hope that by this point next year, we’ll have regained what hasn’t been lost forever. But given everything that’s happened, how can any of us not worry that 2021 won’t be more of the same?

I miss my dad. I miss his cheese bread. I miss how he makes it just right every year. I miss how Thanksgiving used to be.

Editor’s Note: After reading this blog post, my dad said he would drop off a tray of his cheese bread and leave it by my front door, contactless delivery style. Thanks, Dad! Happy Thanksgiving!

Nevin Barich is the Consumer Products Analyst for Industry Intelligence, which can help YOU better address your own industry challenges. To arm yourself with the latest market intelligence, contact ClientCare@IndustryIntel.com. Ask us about our interactive intelligence map and search bot on Microsoft Teams.

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.