A face mask lies in the foreground of an image of pumpkins and candles.
Graphic credit: "Thanksgiving Dealies" by Martin Cathrae, "Face Mask" by shibuya246

It is fairly obvious Thanksgiving will be different this year than it has been in the past, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Madison (Madi) Mata, an Oswego High School sophomore, and William (Will) Kalsto, also an OHS sophomore, provide their views of Thanksgiving this year as students. Likewise, OHS teachers Mr. Adam Glynn, Mr. Dan Okoren, and Mrs. Erin Watson provide how their Thanksgivings’ will be different and how they remain the same during the year of constant change.

Do you have plans for Thanksgiving this year? If so, are these plans different from plans in previous years?

Mr. Glynn- “Yes. It’s just my wife and I this year. So we’ll just make a really nice dinner for ourselves with some Thanksgiving sides like stuffing and pie. Usually, we would host my family (my mom, my 3 brothers, and their significant others). And we’d do a traditional Thanksgiving with all of the sides and a turkey.”

Mrs. Watson– “This year, we are headed to Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. My husband’s side of the family has a lake house down there. We go there for Thanksgiving every other year, so on those off years, we go to my parents’ for Thanksgiving. So this is our year to go to the lake, and actually, it’s going to be very convenient because we can social distance with my husband, my kids, my in-laws, and my sister-in-law.”

Madi Mata– “Typically, my entire mom’s side of the family meets at her brother’s house and we all celebrate together. This year, to stay safe, my family and I are just going to stay home and have a small meal together. We don’t want to risk anyone in our family, especially my grandparents.”

Do you think COVID-19 has made an impact on your planning?

Mr. Glynn- “COVID-19 has impacted our Thanksgiving. My family wouldn’t want to risk passing COVID-19 to each other, so we’ll celebrate virtually on a group FaceTime. But we’ll make our own meals individually at our own homes.”

Mr. Okoren- “Not really. One difference is that my step-sister and her family are normally there, but they will not be attending due to COVID-19. We normally pick names for our Christmas grab bag on Thanksgiving, so we may need to pick names for them. The only other difference is that usually my wife goes out shopping after the meal to hit up the early Black Friday sales, but she will be doing her shopping online this year. She will get a lot more sleep because of it!”

Mrs. Watson- “Our plans might be a little different just because normally we would boat to some different restaurants on the lake over the weekend, and this year if we eat out it’s going to be carry-out and not getting to sit around at a restaurant and watch football. On the years we’re at the Ozarks we do Black Friday shopping because they have a really big outlet mall down there, and that’s not going to be happening this year, so we’ll definitely be online shopping for Black Friday this year.”

How have recent restrictions because of COVID-19 impacted you?

Mr. Okoren- “As a high school bowling coach just starting the season, we are having to adapt the way we operate in every aspect. Changes to the bowling season include making schedule changes that eliminate almost all tournaments, having to perform temperature checks and ask COVID symptom questions of all the athletes every day, wearing masks at all practices/competitions, etc.”

Mr. Glynn- “This year we planned to take a short Disney Cruise family vacation over Thanksgiving. No surprise, Disney had to cancel the cruise.”

Madi Mata- “COVID-19 is affecting my typical Thanksgiving day plans but it is also bringing me some more ideas on what to be thankful for this year. I really want to show everyone just how thankful I am to have them in my life. Those short or long but sweet messages always make my day. ”

Do you usually watch Thanksgiving Day parades? Are you disappointed they will be different this year?

Madi Mata- “Yes!! I have always watched the Macy’s and McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day parades since I was a kid and I don’t plan to stop that tradition now. They make beyond happy just watching everyone perform and the fun floats that fly through the towns. I’m not too disappointed about the new looks of these parades this year because I know they are just trying to be as smart as they can with them. In contrast, I’m actually kind of excited to see how they turn out. “

Mrs. Watson- “I always like to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and then the rest of the day it’s like football on TV all day, so we will be able to do that from our lake house and I am very looking forward to it.”

What do you look forward to most with Thanksgiving?

Will Kalsto- “I am looking forward to spending time with my family.”

 Mrs. Watson– “Just taking a break. Having that five-day break from work and school and being able to just slow down and have a slow-paced five-day weekend, and just reflecting on what we’re grateful for and enjoying that time together.”

Mr. Glynn- “I always look forward to having the extended family all together under one roof. My family is tons of fun, we are always playing some sort of game (boardgame, videogame, etc.). We’re really competitive.”

What is your favorite thing about Thanksgiving?

Mr. Okoren- “Eating good food and sharing laughs with family. I also enjoy watching the NFL football games with family between dinner and dessert!”

Madi Mata- “My favorite thing about Thanksgiving has always been the parades that come on. I actually pause my sleep schedule and wake up to watch them. I have watched them every year since I was a kid. It definitely brings me back and reminds me of my childhood when I see some annual floats pass through. I am aware that the parades are going to look very different this year just because of the virus but I still have lots of hope and joy for how magical they will be.”

Mrs. Watson- “My favorite thing about Thanksgiving is cooking and eating. I love to cook and eat, so this holiday was basically made for me. So I will definitely be cooking probably pumpkin pie and maybe a green-bean casserole at the lake this year. Usually, my mother-in-law makes the turkey and the sides so, and I’ll be in the kitchen helping out anyway.”

What are you grateful for this year?

Mr. Okoren- “There is so much to be grateful for, but a few to mention would be family and friends as well as everyone being healthy, so far.”

Mr.Glynn- “I’m really grateful I haven’t contracted COVID and I think remote learning has really helped keep me and my family safe.”

Will Kalsto- “I am grateful for my family, and COVID has not affected [this].”

Madi Mata- “My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a friend or family member this year. I’m also deeply grateful for the amazing people in my life that consistently lifted my spirits and helped me through the hardest times this year. COVID-19 really made me realize how much I used to take for granted, whether it be going to school and hugging, laughing, socializing with all of my friends or even just going to the grocery store without panic. Now any moment that I get to spend with friends, while of course taking measures to be safe, is what I am truly thankful for.”

What does Thanksgiving mean to you?

Mrs. Watson- “To me, Thanksgiving means taking time to think about and reflect on what you’re grateful for, and breaking bread together, and spending that quality time at the dinner table together. And also, Thanksgiving for me means put up the Christmas tree and get ready to finish your Christmas shopping. So that will be happening over Thanksgiving weekend, as well. As soon as I get home, I’m gonna put up my Christmas tree and get in that holiday spirit.”

Will Kalsto- “Thanksgiving means to spend time with important people in your life.”

Mr. Glynn- “Thanksgiving is a day where we celebrate gratitude with our family.  It’s about coming together, enjoying each other at a table filled with incredible food, and filling the time with smiles and laughter.  But mostly, it’s about the stuffing and pie.”

“It is the time to empower others and make them feel like an important piece in your life which is something that I really cannot wait to do.” -Madi Mata

No matter how you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, above all else, be safe and show your gratitude to your family, friends, neighbors, or anyone to let them know Thanksgiving never takes a holiday.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.