Harlingen Happenings

By Mary Torres, Special to the Star

Thursday, November 26 is Thanksgiving Day and this year the observance will be decidedly different and difficult for some people who won’t be able to travel to be with their families. Many of the traditions we’ve come to associate with this holiday such as gathering with friends and family to enjoy a meal of roast turkey with all the trimmings, attending religious services, watching parades and football games will be missing due to the spike in COVID-19 cases being reported nationwide. At CDC.gov there are guidelines for celebrating Thanksgiving safely whether you are hosting an event or attending one.

They recommend hosting outdoor events as much as possible, requiring guests to wear masks when not eating or drinking, and limiting the number of people from other households at the gathering.  There will be football games and parades aired on TV and movies and other events on the Internet to watch. Video conferencing with friends and family at different times during the day can give you a sense of being connected even if you’re not in the same physical space.

StoryCorps.org is hosting “The Great Thanksgiving Listen,” an effort to bring families and the country together through listening. In a year when the holidays will look markedly different than usual, they are inviting students nationwide to use the new remote recording platform StoryCorps Connect to record conversations with a grandparent, teacher, mentor, or another elder. People everywhere are being advised to reconsider their plans for the holidays due to COVID-19 and “The Great Thanksgiving Listen” gives families and communities a safe opportunity to come together, across generations, to listen to the stories of their loved ones.

This year, they are offering StoryCorps Connect, a tool for recording and preserving conversations between loved ones, so people can connect while remaining socially distant. With permission, each interview becomes part of American history in the StoryCorps archive at the Library of Congress and online at archive.storycorps.org. Each StoryCorps conversation provides an opportunity to ask an elder about who they are, what they’ve learned in life, how they want to be remembered, and how the pandemic has affected their life. This year, it feels more important than ever to make time for these conversations. Anyone with an interest in storytelling can participate. People of all ages are encouraged to create their own unique oral history with an elder or loved one, and to transform the holidays into a time of intergenerational sharing. StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. StoryCorps was started in Grand Central Terminal in 2003. Since then, more than half a million people have recorded their stories.

Remember to thank your ancestors for their hard work and sacrifices, without which we wouldn’t be here and say a special prayer for the brave men and women of our armed forces who will celebrate this day far from home defending the freedoms we enjoy.

Black Friday sales are different this year too. Many stores have had month-long promotions, but keep watching local media for more great deals. The genealogy sites such as Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com and, FTDNA.com are also offering specials on DNA testing kits.

Downtown Harlingen invites you to its “Shop Small Saturday Sidewalk Sale,” on November 28, 2020, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This year, more than ever, small businesses need support as they begin to recover from the devastating financial impacts caused by the pandemic. Show your support by shopping locally while enjoying discounted merchandise from your favorite downtown shops and restaurants! The Downtown Improvement District reminds people to take the usual precautions to play it safe and to make sure everyone still has a fun and safe time.

While visiting Downtown Harlingen, please remember face coverings are required. Please show your support and respect to employees and fellow visitors by adhering to the face-covering order and social distancing guidelines. Don’t forget the Farmer’s Market near City Hall is open on Saturday from 3 – 4:30 p.m. with a variety of unique items.

Best wishes for a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!