Student and Faculty Thanksgiving Plans Evolve Due to Pandemic

By Sophia Harrison Bregman ‘23, Staff Writer

Our Thanksgiving traditions run deep. Every year, my family and I have travelled down South to spend the holiday with our extended family. Every year, my cousins and I sleep on spare air mattresses and couches in our grandfather’s downtown Savannah home. Every year, eighty family members gather on my grandfather’s farm to give thanks that we could all be together again. And every year I share dinners with family, play soccer with cousins, and run the annual Savannah Turkey Trot with my father and sister early Thanksgiving morning. Every year but this year. 

Due to the pandemic, our plans had to change. In fact, millions of Americans were forced to rethink their beloved Thanksgiving traditions to accommodate the restrictions of the pandemic. So, what did you and your family do to have a fun and meaningful Thanksgiving while remaining safe?

In the absence of cherished family traditions, some of us began new ones. “We all made at least one dish for the meal,” said a Heschel student. “We played games that night too. I think that helped us maintain the usual feeling of Thanksgiving.”

On the other hand, in hopes of keeping old traditions alive, a number of families planned on tweaking their typical holiday plans so that they could do the same activity in a safer way. For instance, World Language Department Chair and French teacher, Celine Clerfeuille, usually watches the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from a friend’s Central Park West apartment window, and then attends a family dinner later that evening in Connecticut. She then returns to the city on Friday morning to partake in the excitement of Black Friday. “This year, I heard that the parade was happening but the balloons would be pulled by cars instead of people,”  Clerfeuille explained. “And of course we couldn’t go to anyone’s house, so we watched it on TV.” In terms of the actual Thanksgiving meal, Cleurfeuille said, “We each cooked something.” Clerfeuille also noted that, this year, her family tried to take advantage of the situation by travelling someplace very different from the city. “I had this idea that we could go somewhere,” Clerfeuille continued, “someplace that felt different but that wasn’t not breaking all the codes, like the mountains,” adding, “I needed to see trees!” Many people are feeling the same way this year, viewing the upcoming holiday as a perfect opportunity to leave the hustle and bustle of the crowded city and spend some time in nature. 

However, with the possibility of cold winds or rain, many had trouble finalizing plans. “We are just waiting to see how the weather will be, so we can see family outside,” said biology teacher Naomi Bergman,“Otherwise we may just do it alone.”

Though many families tried to find ways to adjust their plans as a result of the circumstances, others didn’t have to. Many people have always had intimate family get-togethers, such as junior Maya Ofek. “It wasn’t very different than normal,” Ofek said, “we usually have a relatively small Thanksgiving celebration anyway.”Amidst a global pandemic, we have all the more reason to find aspects of our lives to be grateful for. However you chose to mark the holiday, we hope that you managed to maintain the spirit of your Thanksgiving without compromising anyone’s health and safety.

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