Families skip Thanksgiving gatherings to prevent health risk

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Several West Michigan families are breaking tradition this year — not because they want to, but because they say it’s the right thing to do.

“You miss those times,” Jathan Austin said. “It really makes you count your blessings.”

The Austin family is one of many heeding warnings from health experts calling for Americans to avoid traveling and large gatherings this Thanksgiving.

“Normally, we rent out a facility and you have all of the aunties, all of the uncles, grandma, just the whole tribe,” Austin said. 

Austin’s wife, Veverly added that all their cousins are also a big part of the celebration.

The Austin’s celebration is now being reduced to an immediate family gathering, just like the Rottier family’s.

“This year is already unforgettable, like let’s make Thanksgiving unforgettable,” Noelle Rottier said.

For the first time ever, all five Rottier children are choosing a dish they want to eat and help make for Thanksgiving. At the helm of it all is “Chef dad.”

“They have a list of a ton of food,” Dan Rottier said. “I’m like ‘oh my goodness, we can stop adding food?'”

As the family of seven prepares to satisfy every craving, Matt Jemilo said he’s gearing up to dine with his Chicago family through Zoom, while sharing a meal at home with his girlfriend.

“It just sucks knowing we’re not all going to be together,” Jemilo said.

While this is a reality for all three families this year, the Austins want all to know that in the absence of loved ones, is the presence of hope.

“Without hope, you lose perspective,” Austin said.

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