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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Students explore ways to celebrate Thanksgiving during the pandemic

Suggestions and guidelines on how to safely celebrate this holiday season can also be found at cdc.gov

For many students, Thanksgiving break typically consists of well-deserved rest from school, expressions of gratitude, family gatherings and home-cooked meals. As the 2020 holiday season approaches and county-wide restrictions change based on the fluctuating number of COVID-19 cases, UC Davis students and their families must adapt their traditions to fit county guidelines. Despite the restrictions in place, three students have found a variety of ways to celebrate Thanksgiving safely with their families.

Zoe Slipper, a third-year international relations major, is planning to have a socially-distanced, outdoor get-together with her family. In order to be safe, her at-risk family members, such as her grandparents, won’t be attending. 

“It’s definitely less-planned than usual in regards to knowing exactly how it’s going to go and who’s going to come,” Slipper said. “But at the same time, we have a lot more stress in regards to keeping each other safe.”

While she is currently living in Davis, Slipper plans to travel to her home in San Diego and stay there until New Year’s. This minimizes the amount of travel she has to undergo and lowers the risk of contracting and spreading the virus. She emphasized the importance of getting tested for COVID-19 before traveling, especially during the holidays.

“There’s definitely a greater amount of fear traveling back and forth,” Slipper said. “I’ve been hyper-aware of what I’m doing at school and who I’m seeing, and making sure that I’m getting tested before and after I travel.”

Some students’ family traditions are not significantly impacted by COVID-19. Paola Simbulan, a fourth-year design major, typically spends Thanksgiving at home, cooking with her immediate family.

“We don’t typically go outside during Thanksgiving,” Simbulan said. “We like to stay inside, listening to music while we’re cooking. We watch the parade in the morning and sometimes at night we have a fire. Just chilling the whole day with the family.”

Simbulan moved back to Southern California when lockdown measures first took effect. Upon hearing about the possibility of quarantine after Winter Quarter finals, she packed up her belongings and left Davis. Since then, she has been spending more time with her family at home. She took note of the way her family continues to make the most out of special occasions, despite the restrictions in place.

“Thanksgiving happens to land on my dad’s birthday this year,” Simbulan said. “We’re going to try to make it as special as we can during quarantine.”

Other students are utilizing the internet to bring their physically-distant family members closer together. Kory Chan, a fourth-year animal science major, usually spends Thanksgiving with his extended family. Each family would cook their own food according to a chosen theme, then they would reunite, enjoy the food and play games together.

Chan’s family decided to move their Thanksgiving celebration online this year. They still plan to prepare their own food, but instead of physically gathering together, they will deliver the food to their nearby family members. Afterwards, they plan to have a meal together over Zoom.

“It’s actually a blessing in disguise to have it all virtually, because it allows us to bring in more of our family members that don’t live here,” Chan said. “We have some in Georgia, some in Canada, a couple in Kentucky. They usually don’t meet up with us, but by having it on Zoom, we can include everybody.” 

While Chan typically enjoys his family’s in-person gatherings, he prioritizes the safety of himself and his family members.

“I know it’s the holidays and people really want to get together with their families, but it’s so important to make sure you’re doing it safely,” Chan said.

For those who are still in the process of making Thanksgiving plans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has compiled a list of tips to keep celebrations safe. Aside from the typical instructions to wear a mask, stay six feet away from those outside of your household and wash your hands, additional tips include:

  • Have a small outdoor meal with a limited number of guests.
  • Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups and utensils.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.
  • Get your flu shot before you travel.
  • Consider hosting a virtual Thanksgiving meal or playing games with people in your household.

More suggestions and guidelines on how to safely celebrate this holiday season can be found at cdc.gov. Thanksgiving guidelines for California include limiting gatherings to fewer than three households, protecting older, at-risk family members and keeping windows open for increased air circulation.
Written by: Liana Mae Atizado— features@theaggie.org

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