Dinner plate
Dinner plate

By Molly Butler

Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday.

It helps to have a family as fun as mine. We open one of those huge 3L bottles of wine. Mom assigns us kids a side dish, Dad tackles the turkey, and the grandmas show up with enough dessert to make the whole neighborhood say, “I’m stuffed.” We joke and laugh, and Grandma Linda asks us to go around the table and say what we are thankful for. We usually say something silly. “I’m thankful for more wine.” “I’m thankful for pie.” After the plates are cleared, we lounge around with one more glass of wine, one more slice of pie, another story, a little snooze.

I love everything about it: that safe, cozy, warm feeling. Every year for my birthday, my parents asked what I wanted to do, and every year I requested the same thing: Thanksgiving dinner with my family and a friend. So yeah, Thanksgiving might be my favorite–which why it was not an easy decision to cancel our usual plans this year.

Thank you for everything you do, and have a safe and happy holiday.

COVID-19 cases are up across the country, and I have seen the spikes that took place in other countries after families gathered for holidays. I would give so much to sit at my parents’ table with my brother and sister, nieces and nephews, grandmas and in-laws, with the holiday table setting and delicious food. But if I know that gathering could leave even one of us sick or worse, it’s simply not worth it. I would much rather wait. Next year will be twice as special.

This has been a difficult year for everyone. I want to take a moment to thank you for everything you’ve done in 2020.

If you are a healthcare provider, teacher or essential worker, thank you. If you are growing, preparing, or delivering food for those of us quarantining, thank you. If you are donating or in any way supporting front line workers, thank you. If you’re a student doing your best, thank you. If you’re a parent juggling a chaotic new normal, thank you. If you’re a small business finding ways to adapt to this year, thank you. If you’re missing your loved ones in order to keep them safe, thank you. If you are wearing your mask, washing your hands, and staying home when possible, thank you. If you’re reading this, thank you. If you’ve made it through 2020 and are still finding the high notes, thank you.

Thank you for everything you do, and have a safe and happy holiday. Here are some safe and wonderful outdoor and online events happening this weekend.


Face the cold and find the prizes! Bellissimo Paint & Coating of Mankato is hosting a Tree Farm Tree Hunt in Old Town Mankato. From Nov. 15 until Dec. 20, daily prizes from old town shops will be hidden around the area, and these prizes get better each day! Follow them on Facebook to keep up with the clues and keep your eyes out for the tree-marked gifts.

The Madelia Chamber of Commerce is kicking off the holiday season with its Razzle Dazzle Celebration. This free, outdoor event will include special sales, hot cocoa, carriage rides, a tree lighting ceremony and an outdoor bonfire to keep you warm. This event runs Friday and Saturday. Then entrepreneurs can join in Global Entrepreneurship Week with Bizpitch, on its online business pitch panel. Have a business idea? Go here for more information.


The Southern Minnesota Christmas Festival is going virtual! Join the fun starting this Saturday at 11 a.m. for stories with Santa, cooking and craft ideas, as well as shopping and gift guides throughout the holiday season. Follow the festival on Facebook to keep up with its virtual launch!

Teenagers, are you getting bored at home? Join in the Janesville Public Library’s Hunt a Killer event. Each month for six months, you and your friends will receive evidence, ciphers and clues to solve a murder mystery. This activity is geared for those aged 13-18, and registration is available here.

Keep the “giving” in Thanksgiving. Cyclists, get on your bike and deliver food donations for Cranksgiving Mankato 2020. Key City Bike is collecting donations for ECHO Food Shelf. The Blue Earth County Covid Food Assistance Program will be providing one box of produce, one box of mixed dairy and one box of chicken and pork to any household in need. Just swing by the Open Door Health Center on Holly Lane in Mankato between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.


Tickets are going fast, so get yours here for the Theatre Physics Christmas Radio Show by Bethany Lutheran College. This is a Christmas-themed comedy show and will be a yuletide celebration fit for the whole family. Volunteers of America and the River Hills Mall have teamed up for a Warm for the Winter Coat Drive. Donate new coats, hats, scarves and gloves at the River Hills Mall drop-off site.

Bonus: Thanksgiving 2020 Ideas

Here are some ideas to celebrate an unconventional Thanksgiving, 2020 style:

  • Gather virtually. I know you know this one, but it wouldn’t be a 2020 guide without this simple step. FaceTime, Zoom, whatever you gotta do.
  • If you’re the master chef of the family and you don’t want anyone to miss out on your signature dish, cook ahead of time and follow these tips from the USPS to make sure your food arrives safe and delicious.
  • Have food delivered. Maybe someone can’t come home for the holidays. Today we have incredible online services that allow you to have a fresh hot meal delivered from across the country.
  • Maintain some traditions. Do you always watch the Thanksgiving parade? Or maybe your family is into the Turkey Trot. Whatever it is, finding a small way to keep things normal can help overcome the stress of a strange holiday season.
  • Keep it simple. Make a streamlined, simpler meal for just your household and use the fancy dishes and silverware anyways. The best part of this is that you’ll only have to make your very favorite dishes.
  • Embrace the chaos of 2020. Mashed potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pie are delicious, but not mandatory. Maybe this year you need a margarita and a bubble bath, or a full-blown marathon of Lord of the Rings movies. Maybe you need pizza for breakfast and an online shopping spree for dessert. It’s 2020. Do whatever you gotta do. Just have a happy Thanksgiving.


Weekend High Notes is a regular feature by Molly Butler. Molly covers weekend events, live music, and culture in the Greater Mankato Area. Suggestions are welcome using the MankatoLIFE contact form.