By McKenzie Collins
Many students at the College have been in quarantine, or at least living with adapted routines, since the initial Covid-19 shutdown in March. As the end of the year approaches, holidays and family gatherings are being postponed, altered or canceled all together.
“We’re hoping to have a sort of ‘Zoomsgiving,’ or just call our loved ones outside of our family that we can’t be with this Thanksgiving,” said Zoe Talbot, a sophomore English and secondary education dual major.
People have been using their creativity to discover different options of celebrating in place of a traditional family gathering on Thanksgiving Day. This newfound creativity is gifting communities with a means of connection throughout this holiday season.
Whether it be via Zoom, FaceTime or other messaging and social media platforms, students are recognizing the value of their family traditions. Many students are unable to visit their extended family as they typically would during the holidays.
“My grandparents would fly in from the Dominican Republic, which would make the holiday extra special,” said Lynette Tapia, a sophomore chemistry major. “The day would consist of a lot of cooking, Bachata music, and dancing. However, we will not be gathering this year just to keep everyone safe, especially with the second wave of cases.”
Although for most students this year will not look like any other Thanksgiving, cultural traditions continue to live on. Kat Jorgensen, a freshman English and secondary education dual major, is grappling with the validity of potential precautions that might need to be taken to meet in person.
“We’ve been avoiding large group gatherings, and this year it will only be my mom and her brother’s family,” Jorgensen said. “We will be getting tested before we see our family, as both my uncle and my sister are ER nurses.”
Some students are experiencing emotional hardships due to family separation during tradition-centered holidays, as well as the general isolation of the fall semester. Thanksgiving break offers students a week of freedom from academic demands. Many students believe that this will be a beneficial hiatus before diving into finals.
“There has been so much going on this year with the pandemic and the election — being a college student on top of that was definitely stressful,” said Shanil Henriquez, a sophomore criminology and women’s gender and sexuality studies double major. “It’s hard to focus on an upcoming quiz or project when the future’s so unclear and overwhelming. This break will definitely alleviate some of that stress.”
While this break offers a mental breather for students, it also gives students time to focus and study for upcoming finals and assignments.
“Academically, Thanksgiving break will give me time to recharge and prepare for finals so I can finish my first semester out strong, even though it was online,” said Jorgensen. “Mentally, I can also recharge in a different way. It’ll give me more time to read, spend time with my family and do the things I love.”
Tapia emphasized her support for the week off, saying that she’s counting down the days to the break in order to recharge physically and mentally. She has been working 12-hour shifts along with handling her school responsibilities, so she’s planning on using the week-long break to catch up on sleep and assignments.
The general consensus among the students at the College is that safety is to be prioritized over the preservation of traditions that can still be sustained in a modified manner. Students recognize the risk that is posed to immunocompromised and elderly family members when considering habitual gatherings and celebrations.
“Everyone needs to remember that we are still in a pandemic and the best way to support your family is to stop the spread of Covid,” said Santiago Salinas, a sophomore public health major.
Though many students have opted to use technology to reconnect with loved ones, there are other ways to celebrate your culture and the national unity that Thanksgiving represents. Giving back to the community in a time of need is a way students can celebrate the act of giving, all while providing low income families with necessary resources.
“In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I plan to donate to local food pantries,” Tapia said. “I encourage anyone who is able to do the same, especially because so many families have been hit hard by the pandemic.”