Lake Stevens woman giving thanks for a friend's generosity before the holiday

This upcoming Thanksgiving is going to look very different for families who are social distancing and limiting travel, and more than two weeks before the holiday state health officials are urging families to keep celebrations within the household.

“My brother wants to spend time with my parents because it’s going to be my dad’s 95th birthday on Thanksgiving, and that means I’ve had to very consciously think about how I’m going to participate in that, and I’m not going to be at their table in person,” said Dr. Anthony Chen, Director of Health of Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

Health officials don’t recommend gatherings of any kind as fall cases surge, but shared their thoughts on some precautions families can take before Thanksgiving.

If you plan on gathering with family or friends outside of your household, the state health department is advising a two-week quarantine starting now, holding the Thanksgiving event outdoors and limiting the number of additional people from outside your home to just five.  

“I feel like we’re going back to phase one, but we’re just not being told yet,” said Tonya Busenbark of Lake Stevens. “Just being smart about it is the best plan of action. I really hope we don’t go back into where we were in March.”

Busenbark is a mother to two young boys, Hulden and Xander, who are respectively 9 and 2 years-old.

Her dad from California plans on making a road trip up to spend Thanksgiving with them.

“He’s going to pick up my grandma who lives in Oregon and they’re going to come all the way up here. They decided to do this a couple weeks ago because she’s much, much older and she wants to see my children as much as possible. Neither of them are willing to do the airlines yet so they’re going to be in a car. It’s a long trip for both of them at their age,” said Busenbark.

It’s been a hard stretch for Busenbark, who worked as a veterinarian technician before the pandemic. She’s currently out of work and waiting to see if she qualifies for unemployment benefits.

“I didn’t realize she was having as hard a time as she was,” said friend Lynn Prussel of Lake Stevens. “I reached out and said I don’t want you to be offended, but I’ve known you for years and years, and I really love you and I wanted to see if I could help out in anyway.”

Busenbark graciously thanked her and said she was okay, but that didn’t stop Prussel from showing us the meaning of giving thanks this holiday.

“I did not expect what showed up at my door and it was amazing. I have people! She ended up sending like five bags of groceries and included everything but the turkey and I’ve actually had the turkey for a while,” said Busenbark.

Health officials are urging families to limit social gatherings immediately. While no one wants another lockdown, officials said it may be inevitable if we aren’t able to contain the spread of Covid-19.