A Virtual Holiday with Chancellor Robert J. Jones

Ready to celebrate a virtual Thanksgiving this week? Distanced holidays are the best gift of health you can give to your loved ones and your community this year. We’ve asked people in our community how their holiday traditions will change for 2020 to give you inspiration for your upcoming celebrations.

Giving us inspiration, and making our mouths water, is University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Chancellor Robert J. Jones, sharing his family traditions and how it will look different in 2020.

“Since my mom passed, my sister has made all of the Thanksgiving dishes that were part of our family holiday tradition. No matter where I am living, she cooks everything that can be made ahead of time, deep freezes it, loads it into suitcases and brings it to wherever we are living – she’s very popular with the Skycaps at the airport when they figure out that she’s traveling with a buffet!”

Chancellor Jones and his wife, Lynn, traditionally make Thanksgiving a whole family affair but recognize the reality that 2020 brings. “My whole family and Lynn’s whole family gather at our house, not so much to see us, but to be a part of my sister’s wonderful meals. We know it simply isn’t safe to gather in large groups this year, but we will all miss my sister’s amazing Thanksgiving dinner.”

To adapt to the challenges of the pandemic, Chancellor Jones shares, “We will talk on the phone with each other, and the family members who are lucky enough to live near my sister will drive to her house, and she’ll meet them in the driveway – wearing masks and practicing social distancing, of course. And she’ll load plates of food into their cars. My nephew is planning to drive 55 miles one way to pick up his dinner. Lynn and I will have a quiet dinner at home, and we’ll have to make do remembering the taste of those wonderful dishes my sister makes every year. I’ll have to check the freezer and see if there might still be anything left over from last year!”

Asked about his favorite dish, Chancellor Jones says, “I don’t cook, but my favorite dish on Thanksgiving is sweet potato pie. My mom always made the traditional kind, and my sister still does. She cooks the potatoes, purees them, pours them into the crust and bakes the pie. Some people do outrageous things like adding raisins or pecans. In my family that is blasphemy.”

We hope you find some of that pie in your freezer from last year! Thank you, Chancellor Jones for sharing your Thanksgiving traditions and for helping to “Spread Cheer, Not COVID.”

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