Writing a column in November about being thankful isn't exactly cutting-edge stuff, but then neither is bringing back pumpkin-spice lattes every October.

This year, however, for many in the restaurant industry and those of us who cover it, finding a reason to be thankful takes a much longer seated position on our meditation cushion.

It's all such a mixed bag right now. Not only can you no longer compare apples to oranges, you can't compare them to anything you've seen before.

The Governor is allowing restaurants to seat up to 10 unrelated people at one table, but it's suggested that we abstain from gathering out-of-state family members at our dining table at home this Thanksgiving in order to not to host a superspreader event.

A limited number of us can dance at the same time at an event, such as a wedding—if we make the cut of the newly shortened guest list—but only to songs that don’t encourage touching or sweating. If possible, do line dancing facing away from each other, the guidelines suggest. When I close my eyes, I can picture the movies in a few years that will feature COVID-related interactions, from masked strippers to Zoom holiday meals.

I thought the hospitality industry had it tough until I was at a board meeting for a local theater company and they were explaining the costs associated with doing any kind of theater or movies with Actors’ Equity Association members. In order to put on a show next April, the theater company had to submit a 22-page plan on how they would handle myriad details to ensure the equity members are safe. Some of the accommodations included: cleaning the costumes after every show, frequent COVID testing, taking temperatures twice a day and a social distancing plan for onstage, as well as backstage. For theater companies hoping to save money by doing two-character plays, they now are facing hiring two understudies, instead of one, plus a backup for the director.

All for a play that will be performed in a half-empty theater.

One theater's plan included physically removing two rows of seats for every row left in, and blocking off every other two seats so that couples had two empty seats on either side of them.

And no more intermissions in order to avoid lines for the restrooms—and no concession stand.

And that's just in the event that it will be possible to put on a show.

Pre-COVID it was easy to yearn for someone else's greener grass, because it was always on the other side. Now, it's hard to envy anyone.

And maybe that's what I'm thankful for this year. Finding bright spots in our shared humanity: the woman who has turned her lending library into a food shelf that she stocks daily, family businesses like the two featured in our cover story; and groups like Serving Those Serving that are helping industry people find the mental health resources they need in these trying times.

I'm thankful I didn't pass up the opportunity to purchase both a cheesecake and a sweet potato pie when I wrote about the two amazing women who built a pretty sweet business from their baking skills. And last but not least, I'm glad I was still on the mailing list for the local chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier when they sent out a notice for the limited number of masks they had for sale as one of their fundraisers. I'm wearing one in my picture here—bakery items on one side, coffee beans on the reverse side.

It's never a burden to donate when you get such cool swag in return. And for that, I'm also thankful.

No one will be surprised to learn the Charlie Awards won't be taking the stage at the Pantages Theater in February 2021. I'm not sure we could convince the Pantages to remove rows in the historic theater, nor could such a close-knit community keep itself from hugging the winners.

But we think we've come up with a winning to way to keep the celebration of community alive in a podcast series featuring some of our outstanding Charlies contenders.

Stay tune to social media for more information about who, what, when and where, but suffice it to say that you are in for a treat. Thank you to our generous sponsors and to the Charlie luminaries who will talk about a bevy of subjects close to their hearts: Justin Sutherland, Wayne Kostroski, the Chowgirls, Jametta Raspberry and Emily Hunt Turner. And that's just the prequel. Get ready to lend us your ears!!

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