Local health mandates and social distancing guidelines are influencing Thanksgiving planning for families. Several students were asked to reflect upon the Thanksgiving traditions they look forward to every year. Jacob Boss, a doctoral candidate in religious studies, will not have a large gathering as usual.
“That spirit of being in solidarity and caring for our friends has been highlighted this year by my folks choosing not to hold this gathering this year,” Boss said.
While this year’s Thanksgiving celebrations may look different for Boss and four other students, they reflected on the traditions that make the holiday special.
Spending the day with friends and chosen family
Boss gathers with 25-30 members of friends and chosen family every year. They begin preparing their vegetarian meal a few days in advance.
“People start coming over around noon and we eat, talk, catch up and hang out and then we take a little break so people can take a walk and meditate,” Boss said. “When they come back, we continue eating and talking. So it’s really an all-day affair.”
A Gluten Free Thanksgiving
Emily Hyatt, a junior studying secondary social studies education, spends Thanksgiving morning making gluten-free sides in addition to their turkey.
“My mom, my brother Robbie and I were all diagnosed with Celiac Disease, which means we can’t eat gluten,” Hyatt said. “So the usuals: dinner rolls, stuffing, mac and cheese, pie, etc. all went out the window. While it seems like a loss, it’s given my mom and I extra time to spend together on Thanksgiving, so I don’t mind it.”
After dinner, her family plays football together outside.
“As someone who isn’t athletic in a very athletic family, I used to not enjoy playing, but we’ve come to ignore all the rules and it becomes a very fun and chaotic free for all,” Hyatt said. “And, now that we finally have a little one in our family, who has just turned two, in the end he always wins which is a much better result in my opinion than either team.”
Dinner and a card game
Noah Moenning, a third year nonprofit management major, and his family, invites family members from across the country. They always follow dinner with competitive card games.
“Card games are huge in my family, so things get pretty heated,” Moenning said. “Holidays like Thanksgiving are my favorite purely because it means seeing family, so it is a pretty special time of year.”
Lasagna, manicotti, tiramisu: An Italian twist on an American holiday
Angela DiCristo, a third year international studies major, blends her Italian American heritage with American traditions for the Thanksgiving dinner.
“We make a lot of Italian desserts like tiramisu and struffoli,” DiCristo said. “We still have American dishes but we add Italian dishes as well. We usually have lasagna which is really popular for Italian Americans for the holidays as well as manicotti.”
The older members of the family tell stories of their past to the younger members. They always honor the sacrifices of their ancestors.
“It’s fun to hear your family history and feel closer to them,” DiCristo said.
Jell-O, bundt cakes and remembering family
Abe Plaut, who is taking a gap year from his studies in sociology, has a similar tradition in his family.
“One tradition that we do every year is think about the people that aren’t with us around the table,” Plaut said. “Whether it's loved ones and family members who may have died in the past year or this time in years past.”
He also looks forward to his mom’s apple cider Jell-O, made with a complementary spice blend, and bundt cakes.