Thanksgiving in a Pandemic

Annabelle Glassman

Staff Writer

In typical 2020 fashion, this Thanksgiving was anything but normal. For many families in the Freeman community and throughout the United States, this Thanksgiving brought significant changes to long-held traditions. Crowded dining room tables turned into Zoom calls, the Rockettes wore masks when performing at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and highly-anticipated football games were cancelled as the coronavirus pandemic continues to afflict the country.

For as long as she can remember, junior Bella Fowler’s Thanksgiving celebrations have included a large family gathering in Ohio. “There’s usually about 30 to 40 people there,” Bella said. This year, however, Bella’s family has decided to scale down their Thanksgiving celebrations, particularly because most of her family are higher risk because they are older. “We’re spending the week with my grandad,” she said, “just … me, my sister, my parents, my grandad, my mom’s brother, and his wife and two kids. So it’s pretty small.”

While in Ohio, Bella also visited her dad’s family, but much differently than past years. “On Thanksgiving day, we are going to go to the park, all wearing masks and practicing social distancing,” she said, “we’re just going to meet them and go for a walk.” Overall, Bella feels that this Thanksgiving was “worse” because she is “used to big celebrations where [she] gets to see everyone.”

A typical Thanksgiving for freshman Matthew Estes consists of “driv[ing] down to North Carolina to see my mom’s side of the family.” Earlier this fall, Matthew’s family made the decision not to travel this Thanksgiving. “We wanted to see if we could make it but still had to have time to plan things,” Matthew said. Instead, Matthew spent the holiday at home with only his immediate family. “I liked not having to dress up and just having a calm and easy Thanksgiving, but I missed seeing my family,” he said. Matthew never “expected to have such a different Thanksgiving,” but he sees it as “something to learn from.”  

Junior Sydney Greiner had a typical small dinner with her immediate family and her grandparents this year. Due to pandemic concerns, Sydney’s family decided it would be safest if her grandparents ate outside. “It was pretty easy for us to decide,” Sydney said, “because we figured what’s the point of doing it if we’re just going to put ourselves at risk?”  Sydney also thought this decision was “good” because she and her family were able to “keep [their] mini tradition” and “still get to see [her] grandparents.”

Although this Thanksgiving was not ordinary, Sydney, Matthew, and Bella all think they will return to their former traditions when the world returns to normal. “I think that it will just make us enjoy the next [Thanksgiving] even more,” Matthew said.

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