Many people having a more normal Thanksgiving this year

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RANTOUL, Ill. (WCIA) – Thanksgiving is often the first time all year entire families are able to come together, but that wasn’t the case last year because of COVID.

“My sister usually hosts, and we were going to go to her house, and a couple days ahead of time, she called the family and said hey, I feel good overall, but I’ve got a couple of COVID symptoms,” Lori Owen said.

Instead of the big family gathering, Owen and her family stayed home and downsized their tradition.

“Very sad at first because I really enjoy the time, the tradition, and being able to get together, and it’s not the same,” she said. “And then it was like what am I going to do now?”

Like other families across the country who are getting ready to celebrate together for the first time this year, they’re feeling the excitement.

That includes Melvin Bowen. He lives in Chicago, but his mom and the rest of his family are in Mississippi. So, they’re driving thousands of miles to be together.

“So far, it’s cool. I got like 6 more hours. So yeah, it’s pretty nuts,” he said. “I’m pretty excited. She hasn’t seen her granddaughter, my daughter, in a minute, so she gets to see her and all that stuff.”

And it seems like most people are ready and excited to get back to normal.

“Cautiously optimistic. I think like everybody, I want to make sure I’m still being safe, and taking care of me, my family and those around me, but I’m really excited things are starting to feel kinda normal again,” Owen said.

Of course, roads will be filled with more than just excited families headed to Thanksgiving. State and local police will be out patrolling. Illinois Department of Transportation said they are stepping up patrols looking for impaired drivers, and making sure people are wearing their seatbelts.

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