Despite distance, South celebrates Thanksgiving traditions in new ways

Despite+distance%2C+South+celebrates+Thanksgiving+traditions+in+new+ways

Graphic by Om Patel

Sloane Shabelman, asst. features editor

With Thanksgiving upon us, many are mourning the loss of holiday traditions and yearning to get back to “normal life”.  Although this year’s Turkey Day may look very different, junior Lauren Collins is trying to make the best of this unusual holiday and focus on the positives.

Most years, Collins spends Thanksgiving with her extended family watching football and soaking up good moments together, she said. This year, however, she and only a few of her family members will be enjoying a meal together in her aunt’s backyard. In preparation for the holiday, her family quarantined for two weeks and got tested for Covid-19, Collins explained, which makes her feel more comfortable seeing everyone.

“[My aunt] bought heaters to keep everyone warm outside and instead of everyone using one spoon or bowl to serve their food, everyone is going to have individual plates where they can put what they want on it” Collins said. “It’s a little sad because I don’t get to see my entire family, but I think you kind of have to make the best out of it.”

Even though she’ll miss the warm hugs and physical closeness that usually accompany the holidays in her family, Collins plans to make the most out of the strangeness of this Covid-19 Thanksgiving by catching up with all her family members and enjoying their physically distanced time together. Collins hopes that everyone will be able to spend time with their family this holiday in a safe and enjoyable way, whether it be socially-distanced or via Zoom, she said.

Unlike Collins, Daniel Rhoades, social studies teacher, will not be seeing his family in-person but rather spending the holiday on Zoom. Normally, Rhoades spends Thanksgiving with about 50 members of his extended family playing football, eating Thanksgiving food and enjoying the one time a year where they all come together, he explained. However, because most of his family is in Michigan where very strict lockdown measures have been put into place, this year Rhoades will enjoy Thanksgiving in the company of his wife and two sons as they chat with the rest of their family virtually, he explained.

“Honestly for our family, the food was always kind of secondary; it was all just about being in the same space with everybody else,” Rhoades said. “I know that’s going to be hard to replicate over Zoom, but we’re going to acknowledge that this [year] is different and [that’s] okay; and when we get back to things the way they were, we’re going to appreciate it that much more.” 

Amelia Alpert, executive assistant of student activities, is ensuring Thanksgiving will be more normal in the future for her family by celebrating this year only with her immediate family and mother-in-law, she said. Although she will miss the rest of her extended family, Alpert feels grateful that she is still able to spend the day with some of her loved ones, she explained, and recognizes the importance of celebrating Thanksgiving even in the midst of a difficult time.

“Everybody needs something to look forward to, even if it looks different,” Alpert said. “Come up with some new ideas [this Thanksgiving]. They might become the best stories when everyone can actually be near each other again.”

Rhoades recalled seeing articles after the 2016 election about skipping Thanksgiving to keep peace amongst politically divided family members. Despite a similarly tough election cycle this year, Rhoades would give anything to spend this Thanksgiving with all his loved ones in person, enjoying their annual Rhoades Family Turkey Bowl and retelling family stories, he said.

“I hope going forward people remember that in 2020 we’ve missed so much of each other, and we need to take advantage of every moment that we can going forward,” Rhoades said. “We need to put aside what holds us apart and instead embrace the stuff that can bring us together literally and figuratively.”