The twin threats of Covid-19 and inflation could put a downer on Thanksgiving this year, especially if Americans skip the turkey and follow the mainstream media's advice by sending their guests into the garage for Covid tests.
Rampant inflation has made preparing a Thanksgiving feast historically expensive for many Americans this year. According to the American Farm Bureau, nearly every ingredient in a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is more expensive this year, with a dinner for 10 costing 14% more than in 2020 - assuming shoppers can find a turkey amid supply chain disruptions.
The American media has advised the public to make the best of it. After a slew of headlines telling readers to check out vegan alternatives and to "be thankful" they don't have to feed bigger families, cable news hosts have further dialed down expectations on the eve of the holiday.
"Perhaps forego the turkey," NBC's Vicky Nguyen suggested on Tuesday, adding that cash-strapped hosts could ask guests to chip in cash, or serve up an "Italian feast" instead. Nguyen then said that skipping the turkey could have the added advantage of driving guests away, which would cut down on the number of mouths to feed.
"If you tell everyone you're having Thanksgiving without turkey, some guests may drop off the list and that's a way to cut costs too," she quipped.
CBS guest Lisa Damour, a psychologist, suggested on Wednesday that those going ahead with a meal stop to ask guests for their vaccination papers or a negative Covid-19 test result - an idea that she said could be "kinda fun" thanks to the availability of rapid home testing.
"Say, 'We're going to start with hors d'oeuvres in the garage,' you know, 'We'll have drinks, we'll do our rapid tests, then come on in,'" she said. "You can make it playful, make it fun, and then be able to enjoy the holiday."
Similar Covid-related advice has been served up by the mainstream media abroad, with 7News in Australia recently running a segment examining "whether you should spend time with" or "sit next to" unvaccinated loved ones at Christmas.
Back in the US, it's not just the media tamping down expectations ahead of Thanksgiving. The St. Louis Federal Reserve caused an outrage last week when it suggested that Americans swap the turkey for a "soybean-based" Thanksgiving meal, noting that a "plant-based meal would be almost three times larger by weight than the poultry-based meal and may either keep you at the dinner table longer or provide you with more leftovers."
"And for Christmas you can have earth worms and cockroaches," conservative author and Senate candidate J.D. Vance wrote in response.