BOSTON - Jessica Kantrowitz usually spends the Thanksgiving holiday with her parents in New Hampshire, but last year, she was one of many who chose to stay home alone due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The change in plans didn’t stop the Boston resident and author from thinking up a way to spread a little holiday cheer with a creative take on a virtual Thanksgiving party — and this year she will do the same.
"My goal in everything I do in life is to create community and to draw people in," Kantrowitz told FOX Television Stations. "I’m not really an illustrator, but I thought it would be cute to have something visual for people to feel like they were part of the community."
On Thanksgiving morning in 2020, Kantrowitz drew a picture of herself alone at the dinner table with a turkey on the table and posted the drawing to Twitter.
On Thanksgiving 2020, Kantrowitz drew a picture of herself alone at the dinner table with a turkey on the table. (Credit: Jessica Kantrowitz)
"If anyone is alone today and feeling lonely, you are invited to my Thanksgiving dinner," Kantrowitz wrote on Twitter. "I made lemon & rosemary turkey. Tell me your hair & eye color & what you’re bringing, & I’ll draw you in."
Thousands of comments poured in on social media from people requesting to join her party. One by one, she began drawing them around her table.
"Your hair and orange jello salad add a lot of color to our table!" Kantrowitz replied to one commenter. "Your pecan pie looks more like a mushroom pizza, but I’m sure it’s delicious. Welcome!" she wrote to another Twitter user.
Now, the 47-year-old said she has made close friends from her simple act of kindness one year ago.
"I’ve made about 2,000 friends on Twitter, and a lot of those people have become people I talk with on a sort-of daily or weekly basis online, so it definitely, definitely created something ongoing," Kantrowitz continued.
"If anyone is alone today and feeling lonely, you are invited to my Thanksgiving dinner," Jessica Kantrowitz wrote on Twitter. "I made lemon & rosemary turkey. Tell me your hair & eye color & what you’re bringing, & I’ll draw you in."
On Friday, the writer and author followed up with her friends on social media.
"Hey there! If you're following me because of my Thanksgiving dinner drawing last year, could you comment here? Just say "hi" or "present" or tell me what you had for breakfast," she wrote.
One commenter replied, "Maple and brown sugar oatmeal checking in! Also, I think you are the kindest person on Twitter."
Another user chimed in, "Hi there. Joined for your charming thanksgiving, but have remained for the regular reminder that I am not alone and this will not last forever. Thank you."
Kantrowitz said she has done a few other illustrations since last year and plans to carry on her tradition for Thanksgiving 2021.
"I would like to do something to mark the anniversary and also create another gathering," she added. "I’m still brainstorming what that will look like."
She said the project has inspired other people to do their own creative projects and sketches since.
"A lot of us, I think are feeling, even before the pandemic, were kind of feeling lonely and left out and not sure how we could break into other groups," Kantrowitz continued. "So, I think that idea of creating something of your own whether it’s virtual or in real life and inviting people to your table — I think that’s a really powerful idea that we can be community and create community ourselves."