ESSEX, CT (WFSB) - Last Thanksgiving was complicated by COVID.

This Thanksgiving, gathering and mask restrictions have been lifted.

Griswold Inn Generic

Griswold Inn.

Many families had to put their Thanksgiving traditions on hold last year so this year.

"When you have a dining room this loud it means that everybody’s reconnecting, everybody’s with the people they care about the most," Dianne Hunt-Mason of West Hartford tells us.

For Dianne, Thanksgiving is a special day.

"Being able to be with my son is very sentimental, because when he was born, I brought him home on Thanksgiving day," Hunt-Mason said.

Last year, officials encouraged everyone to celebrate only with those you lived with.

Many restaurants were closed or doing takeout only, so traditions were broken.

"I was thinking, ‘how do you eat a turkey with a mask on?’," asked Hunt-Mason.

But this year, Thanksgiving is back in a big way.

Families toasting a return to normal. It’s something Roger Lindsay, a manager at Griswold Inn, is celebrating too.

"I love to see everybody coming in. We’ve got a very full house today, back to the way it should be," stated Lindsay.

The inn has seen more than a fifty percent jump in reservations compared to last year.

"Small families, large parties. It’s nice to see everyone getting together again," noted Lindsay.

Business is back, because families are back and after living through the pain and loss of the pandemic, many are finding themselves extra grateful on this Thanksgiving.

"It is healing," says Hunt-Mason.

"Hopefully, we have turned the corner and, hopefully, there’s no looking back and things will be the way they used to and folks will eat, drink, and be merry once again," added Lindsay.

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