The Zoom party can certainly disappoint, especially when we’re all frayed after months of isolation. For Thanksgiving, Erica Dumas, a publicist in Wood-Ridge, N.J., tried to replicate a large holiday gathering with her extended family. Seven households participated. Ms. Dumas, her mother and her sister came up with the dishes, sharing the menu with the other households. The three-course meal, with ample sides, included traditional Haitian and American dishes like soup joumou, stuffed turkey, fried red snapper, and Haitian black rice.
In the end, the food was good. The party? Not so much.
Once each household was done toasting and giving thanks, the night became awkward. The individual tables didn’t know whether to talk among themselves or turn their attention back to the screen. Ms. Dumas’s daughter, who is 3, kept getting distracted by the video, as did her other young cousins. Eventually, Ms. Dumas turned it off and focused on the quiet night at home with her daughter and boyfriend. “There was just so much planning for the day that, in a way, was sort of disappointing,” Ms. Dumas said. “Like, this is all we get this year?”
For Christmas, they plan to call each other one household at a time over FaceTime, and post photos of the children opening gifts over WhatsApp.
One piece of Thanksgiving was a success though. After dinner ended, Ms. Dumas called her mother in Massachusetts and toasted the night with a glass of Cremas, a Haitian drink. Usually, the two share the creamy beverage in person, so the moment felt like a fleeting connection to what is normally a special day. “It was delicious,” Ms. Dumas said. “It was sort of like being home again.”
Maybe for this to work, we need to check our expectations at the keyboard and accept that none of this is normal. “If you’re trying to emulate a real life get together, you’re probably going to be disappointed,” said Ms. Turk, who is also features editor at Wired UK.