They’re staying home, alone, for Thanksgiving this year — and it’s not just good, it’s gravy.
As New York City’s seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate surpassed 3 percent over the last week, and as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has demanded that New York State residents avoid gobbling up turkey in large gatherings to curb the viral spread, a number of locals have decided to replace their typical Thanksgiving plans with a quiet, solitary Thursday. And they’re not alone: A recent survey by upscale grocery store delivery app Mercato showed that — of 300 users across New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — 52 percent will have their holiday dinner with just one person, or by themselves.
Among New Yorkers, the number is even higher: 55.2 percent will eat alone or with a single guest this week — a jump from the 14.2 percent who rang in last Thanksgiving that way.
For two city-strong solo celebrants, they’re seeing the silver lining in a simple day of thanks.
Julie Goldberg, a 35-year-old Astoria resident working toward her Ph.D. in political science from City University of New York’s Graduate Center, said eating alone means less stress surrounding food preparation. Typically, Goldberg spends Thanksgiving in her native Massachusetts with aunts, uncles and cousins — some 15 people total — and last year, she roasted a 22-pound turkey for her crew.
“It was just four hours of anxiety, because it didn’t completely thaw,” Goldberg said of the bird, adding she also didn’t have a meat thermometer to check its progress in the oven. “It turned out great, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the best turkey I’ve ever had in my life, [but] what if it’s undercooked?’ . . . I didn’t get sick; everybody loved it.”
On Wednesday, she’ll put her kitchen prowess to good use, making a broccoli casserole and mashed sweet potatoes. But since she has no one else to feed, she’s leaving the heavy lifting to the professionals.
On Thursday, she plans to head to the Bel Aire Diner in Astoria for a takeout order of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. They’re all her favorite Thanksgiving bites — and best of all, she’ll have the leftovers all to herself.
“It’s hard with 15 [people], and I always get some leftovers, but this year, this is not the case,” she said. “They’re all for me.”
Others say that after a stressful year, they’re looking forward to a true day off on Thanksgiving.
“I can just do anything I want that day,” said 54-year-old Hell’s Kitchen resident Kathleen Spinelli, who works in book publishing and typically spends her Thanksgivings with friends.
But this year, she’s kicking it solo: “I can sit on the couch and watch the revised Macy’s Day Parade, I can do that. I can take my dog for a nice walk along the river, I can do that. I can watch eight hours of football, I can do that.”
Spinelli still hasn’t sorted out her plans for the meal, but she’s considering grabbing dinner to-go from the Palm steakhouse in her neighborhood, which will offer up a three-course menu including lobster bisque, turkey and pecan pie.
She says missing out on her annual gathering is well worth the sacrifice. “It would be lovely to get together with my friends . . . or go out with friends to a restaurant, but that’s just not what this year’s about,” she said. “I feel like it’s important to stay safe, so I’m making the most of it.”
Spinelli and Goldberg both said that they’ll connect with friends and family members on Thursday the best — and safest — way that they can, by calling and FaceTiming. And they’re looking forward to the holiday’s triumphant return next year.
“Just given the fact that it’s 2020, you sort of have to roll with it,” said Goldberg. “It’s one year. It’ll make 2021 all the sweeter.”