Between a global health crisis and economic uncertainties, the year 2020 has been historic and challenging. For Thanksgiving, many people chose to downsize their plans in the name of staying safe and ending the COVID-19 pandemic. And yet, they still found ways to be thankful amid all the changes.

Hilary DuBrock

Hilary DuBrock on Thursday, November 26, 2020, in  Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Hilary DuBrock on Thursday, November 26, 2020, in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

Who: Hilary DuBrock, 39

From: Rochester

Newsletter signup for email alerts

What are you Thankful for this year: I'm thankful for my family and our health and my job.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving this year: The Turkey Trot 5K. We started doing that last year.

What would your normal Thanksgiving include: Our parents are both on the East Coast, so they come, and we all have Thanksgiving at our house. We're doing like, a Zoom Thanksgiving instead. So, it'll just be the four of us, but we'll Zoom with our parents .... Last Thanksgiving, actually, was the last time we saw our parents.

I asked my daughter what she was thankful for this morning, and she said, "My grandparents, and I miss them and I wish they were here." So, it's kind of sad.

Any further thoughts: I work in the intensive care unit at Saint Marys. I see a lot of COVID patients. So, I think it's important to me that people still stay connected to their families, but in a way that involves social distancing and masking.

Jamie and Michael

Jamie Ward and Michael Mundwiller on Thursday, November 26, 2020, in  Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Jamie Ward and Michael Mundwiller on Thursday, November 26, 2020, in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

Who: Jamie Ward, 36; Michael Mundwiller, 46; partners

From: New Mexico

What brings you to Rochester: Health care

What would a normal Thanksgiving look like: Jamie: Normally, we'd be at home right now, prepping our goose that's sitting in our freezer. Probably sitting around with the family.

What are you thankful for: Michael: First, we're thankful for being able to get up here. Mayo has the top doctors in the country. Being able to get up here to get the answers for her, and being here with her so that she has the support and is not here by herself, is really important to us — family is everything.

Jamie: I would have to say I'm thankful this year that I have more support from friends and family than I thought I did. I was blessed and thankful for that.

Other thoughts: Jamie: I hate it (the pandemic). I hate that I can't see my family except via phone. I have 2.5 acres ... other people, they don't have that option; they can't be with their family and their friends and their loved ones, and it sucks.

Michael: I'm trying to figure out myself how I can help people in this day and age, because I don't see this going away anytime soon. People are still stuck at home. And during this time, it's like, how could I help people? I had this idea of doing custom family portraits.

John Bradley

John Bradley on Thursday, November 26, 2020, in  Rochester. (Jordan Shearer / jshearer@postbulletin.com)
John Bradley on Thursday, November 26, 2020, in Rochester. (Jordan Shearer / jshearer@postbulletin.com)

Who: John Bradley, 51

From: Rochester

What are you thankful for: Everybody at the Mayo Clinic. I do sports development work for swimming. We've been trying to keep pools open for competitive swimming. So, I'm very thankful for the people at the MDH and the governor's office who have been working with us to do that, as well as all the professionals who are doing their best to keep everyone safe and help people make good, educated choices.

What does Thanksgiving look like this year: It's going to be quiet. I'm actually going to be helping some friends paint. They're the people in my "bubble." It's kind of been the three of us the whole time, and we know where each other are going. We actually did Thanksgiving three weeks ago on Saturday when it was so nice outside. We had a bunch of people socially distance outside — the whole deal. So, painting, a little turkey, and that's it.

Any other thoughts: What I've been telling the people who I advise is we're kind of in the home stretch right now. And, if we can just hang on until the spring, it's going to be OK. We're in the last moments of sacrifice right now, so do your best.

The Brubakers

Bart Brubaker and his mom Nancy Brubaker on Thursday, November 26, 2020, in  Rochester. (Jordan Shearer / jshearer@postbulletin.com)
Bart Brubaker and his mom Nancy Brubaker on Thursday, November 26, 2020, in Rochester. (Jordan Shearer / jshearer@postbulletin.com)

Who: Nancy Brubaker, 79; Bart Brubaker, 49; mother and son

From: Rochester

What does Thanksgiving look like this year: Nancy: We're just going for a Thanksgiving walk. My deceased husband, Richard, made these sculptures that you see ... "Phoenix Rising" is by the tennis court. And "Biking Bunny" is near the children's park.

(It's) most unusual. We're not getting together as a family. We're not gathering at all. When my husband was living, we used to invite friends, and we'd have a lot of people over.

What are you thankful for? Nancy: I'm very thankful for my family, my friends, (and) good memories.

Bart: I'm thankful for those things, and modern medicine.

Any other thoughts: Nancy: It's an unusual year for everyone. Hopefully 2021 will be better.

The Gandhis

Premal Gandhi and his daughter Aahana, 4, on Thursday, November 26, 2020, in  Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Premal Gandhi and his daughter Aahana, 4, on Thursday, November 26, 2020, in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

Who: Premal Gandhi, 36; Aahana Gandhi, 4

From: Rochester

What does Thanksgiving look like this year: We are going to go to one of our close family friends. We don't have a family here. We absolutely have no one, but we have very good, close friends.

Where are you from originally: India

What would you normally be doing for Thanksgiving: Visit the same friends. We hang out every year. We celebrate slightly differently, though — diversity of culture. I'm a vegan. My family's vegetarian. So, we stick to some of our original foods.

What are you thankful for: It has been a good year. She (Aahana) went to preschool, and she has learned a lot; she has grown a lot. I did my first 10-mile this year because gyms were closed. And I'm preparing for a half-marathon now.

Another thing I'm thankful for is I spent a lot more time with my daughter this year, being at home. She walks into my office at home. That has been very good.

The Leasures

Emily and William Leasure with their kids, Elliot, 9, Will, 11, and Evelyn, 6, on Thursday, November 26, 2020, in  Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Emily and William Leasure with their kids, Elliot, 9, Will, 11, and Evelyn, 6, on Thursday, November 26, 2020, in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

Who: Emily Leasure, 40; William Leasure, 40; Will Leasure, 11; Elliot Leasure, 9; Evelyn Leasure, 6

From: Rochester

What are you doing this year: The Turkey Trot, watching football, videoconferencing with family out of town.

Emily: The virtual (aspect of the Turkey Trot) was probably why we did the family one because we knew that if someone had to stop, we wouldn't be in the mix of a huge crowd .... we were supposed to be in Kentucky. We rotate every other year with my family in the Twin Cities.

What are you thankful for: William: One is that we at least are able to be together. Our health and safety, I think, are probably the biggest things.

Any other thoughts: With the pandemic, sort of like today, we just try to be outside and active as much as possible since lots of other things are limited.