It is no surprise that the holiday season is going to look very different this year. 

The restrictions are ever-changing, so families need to remain flexible and try to find ways to celebrate while keeping the ones they love safe. 

When a north metro family heard temperatures were going to be in the 70s earlier this month, they sprang into action to coordinate an early, safe Thanksgiving celebration with family members. 

White Bear Lake resident Corinna Morse, an eighth-grade counselor at Centennial Middle School, said she wanted to find a way to celebrate to cheer up her parents, Peggy Hayden, 78, and Dave Hayden, 81, who live in Stillwater. In addition to the risks inherent because of their age, Peggy is also in a high-risk category due to an auto immune disease. 

“I had talked to her on the phone and heard in her voice her deep sadness in not being able to see us or her grandchildren,” Morse recalled. “I took a look at the weather map and saw that we were going to get a warm weather streak, so I called my parents and said, ‘Let’s just have Thanksgiving early!’”

Morse contacted her children Grace, 22, Cole, 25, and Beck, 20, in addition to her sister and her family. Unfortunately, not everyone was available. Beck couldn’t make it because he was preparing for midterms at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. Morse’s sister and her children could also not come because of schedule conflicts. 

The celebration must go on, even if a bit smaller than planned: In attendance were Corinna and her husband, DuWayne, Peggy and her husband, Dave, Grace and her boyfriend, Evan Johnson, and Cole.

On Tuesday, Nov. 3, when much of the world was focused on the presidential election, Morse’s family gathered to enjoy the beautiful warm day.  

The family gathered outdoors at Morse’s home and enjoyed brined turkey prepared on a Kamando grill along with stuffing, squash, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry relish and — of course — pumpkin pie. As they enjoyed their meal, the warm temperatures and no bugs, many people walked by their celebration and asked, “What time is dinner?” 

One thing that did not stray from tradition? The celebratory toast. Every year, Peggy reads a poem that was written by her grandfather. 

“We decided to focus on the positive and be thankful for our loved ones and current health,” Morse said.


Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or 

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