Every Zoom meeting ended the same way this week: “So what are your Thanksgiving plans?” In years past, a question like this at the end of a business chat might seem like a polite platitude, a simple way to remind a colleague or co-worker that the holidays are coming, a seasonal sign-off that’s rather, well, nice but hollow. This year, the question was real: “What are you doing? I seriously want to know.” We’re all looking for guidance from each other about how to handle this moment. Do we gather? Do we mask it? How do we give thanks as a people — for each other, for life, for the turducken — as the Covid numbers skyrocket across the country?

In my family, we’re gathering in my mother’s house, and each of my sisters and their families will occupy a different room — one group in the dining room, one in the living room, one at the kitchen island. At least that seems like the most logical plan if we want to be in the same house right now. Turkey on the porch as the temperatures dip into the 50s and 40s doesn’t seem very plausible. We may just do a Zoom meal and bring the risk to zero. The jury is still out. Either way, I am bracing for the chance that the holiday table might be empty this year. As the upswing climbs, the Christmas table just might be the same.

Either way, one thing is for sure: it’s time for Thanksgiving Week. Just as Election Day became Election Week in America, Thanksgiving Week is in order. 2020 has given us no other choice. We all need a week of rest, a week of gratitude, and a week to recover from the fall work surge, the trauma of the election, and the nightmare of parenting through a pandemic.

The fall work surge hit my own inbox right after Labor Day when it seemed the whole country decided they needed to actually do some work this year. A rather dead summer inbox was lit anew on September 8, a flurry of goals and Zooms and pivot, pivot, pivot. I’ve wrestled myself with a revised Q4 plan, but the tumult of the failing economy has rippled — well, trampled — through Pages and PowerPoints and endlessly revised spreadsheets all across the nation.

The trauma of the election was deep and exhausting, and it remains active in all of us, collectively and individually. The presidential Hail Mary campaign has given the right a cruel hope and apparently has been the tipping point that Parler needed to woo an angry base away from Facebook. It’s given the left a bittersweet victory and made the relief uneasy. It’s an election we won’t soon forget, and even though Georgia flipped, cementing Biden’s electoral victory at 306 electoral votes, this is sure to drag on until the January 5 Senate run-offs and then until the January 20 inauguration.

Lastly, the nightmare of parenting in a pandemic remains the hardest part of 2020 for so many, and it is the least talked about the trauma of all. Mothers and fathers continue the overwhelming task of managing schedules and space and the electronics and emotions of everyone in the household. Schools in New York City are about to shut down, as are those in countless other districts. This just seems to get worse for parents as each week passes. And while the vaccine news is surely promising, it won’t offer parents a break for months at least.

All of which is why Thanksgiving Week should be a full week for all of us to recover. Whether the table is full or empty, our own personal gas tanks are the latter. So, if your job affords you the privilege to do so, take the time you need to pause, take a deep breath that this year truly requires, and find that place of gratitude that the holiday calls for. It’s the only thing that will truly power us through this winter ahead.