How Blair students celebrated Thanksgiving, and what precautions they are taking to make the holidays more safe during the COVID-19 pandemic
Thanksgiving is usually a holiday filled with friends, family and food, but this year it was just filled with food. As COVID-19 cases continue to climb and the United States reaches record highs of cases each day, families are struggling with how to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving marks the start of a series of winter holidays where we must modify our traditions. In conversation with Yale Medicine, Yale Medicine Infectious Disease Specialist Manisha Juthani, MD described why these holidays could lead to even more of a spike in COVID-19 cases. “The problem is that we have all of these holidays coming during winter, when the cold weather forces people inside. People want to be with their loved ones, but this is where transmission events are happening, more so than in schools,” Dr. Juthani states.
Sophomore Boone Schaffer believes that staying inside and limiting the spread of the virus should be a priority. “It is a big disappointment because Thanksgiving and seeing friends and family is something I look forward to each year, [but] the health and safety of other people in this country is very important,” Schaffer says. Schaffer is used to having a large gathering with extended family as well as neighbors and friends where they enjoy a meal and share what they are thankful for; however, this year he and his immediate family celebrated alone.
Another Yale Medicine Infectious Disease Specialist, Jaimie Meyer, MD, MS further explained the importance of staying home. “To have zero risk of infection, we would need to cancel all holidays, stay home, and keep completely to ourselves...anything we do beyond that takes on some degree of risk, particularly when case levels are increasing in most places in the country,” Dr. Meyer says.
According to a poll conducted by the New York Times surveying 635 epidemiologists, 64 percent planned on spending Thanksgiving with only those in their household, 21 percent plan on celebrating with those outside of their immediate household and 16 percent don’t plan on having a Thanksgiving dinner at all. The New York Times noted that those epidemiologists who did plan on seeing those outside of their household were, “going to great lengths to do so in a safe way.” Getting tested and quarantining prior to the gathering, wearing masks, and following social distancing protocols can significantly lessen the risk of COVID-19.
Sophomore Ila Raso believes staying home is the best option. “I think safe interactions, such as meeting outside with masks on can be a fun alternative, but overall, I think it’s best that families stay home and not risk spreading or getting the virus,” Raso notes. Raso usually travels to Pennsylvania to visit extended family, but this year she is stayed home.
Families are still looking for ways to celebrate and talk with relatives. One way many families are choosing is to speak to family or friends over Zoom. In an interview with the New York Times, Bill Strohsnitter, an affiliate associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School is participating in what the New York Times is calling a Zoom-giving. “It’s just me, and while I usually have a place to go, this year I intend to stay home and just Skype or Zoom with family and friends instead,” Strohsnitter says. Raso and her family also celebrated over Zoom. “Since we are staying home this year, we may zoom with my grandparents for dessert instead of visiting them in person. We will also call and communicate with as many family members as possible to wish them a happy Thanksgiving,” Raso explains.
Freshman Norah McCray is also opting for a Zoom celebration. “I'm just celebrating at home and we are going to do a Zoom call with my dad's family rather than going to see them in person in Massachusetts,” McCray says.
While McCray usually visits extended family, freshman Dami Kim is used to celebrating with just her immediate family or family friends. She doesn’t have any extended family in the country, so not seeing relatives in person this Thanksgiving was nothing new. Her family still wants to ensure a special holiday despite the restrictions. “We plan on eating Thanksgiving food to create a holiday feeling and spending time with each other,” Kim explains.
Senior Devasana Sitaram’s Thanksgiving hasn’t changed much either. Sitaram is used to enjoying a meal with just her mother. They have their own take on Thanksgiving food. “We’re vegetarians so we made tacos instead of the typical turkey,” Sitaram says.
Thanksgiving may have looked different this year, but Blair students are still finding safe ways to celebrate this holiday and talk to family members they may not be able to see. Despite all of the restrictions surrounding this Thanksgiving, Blazers are still able to focus on the core of this holiday, gratitude. As Schaffer says, “[We want to] continue the tradition of having the thanksgiving dinner every year...enjoying eachothers company and just recognizing the things we are thankful for this year [is what’s] really important.”
Isabel Corvington. staff writer More »