Student Life

Thanksgiving Comes with Extra Gratitude, Side of Disappointment for Students

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It’s been a year of social distancing, social unrest, economic challenges and election anxiety. Can we at least have Thanksgiving?

We can, but it might look a little different. Governor Andrew Cuomo urged New Yorkers to celebrate Thanksgiving with their loved ones virtually over concerns family trips could spread Covid-19.

“My personal advice is that you don’t have family gatherings even for Thanksgiving,” Cuomo said from Albany in a press conference call. “That is the best way to say I love you and that I’m thankful for you.”

Experts say that homes and family gatherings are now the main source of coronavirus transmission. A recent study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 101 households in Tennessee and Wisconsin had people that carried the virus with no symptoms at home and infected more than half of the other people in their homes.

Media studies student Joshebel Ramlakhan, kneeling in center, with her family on Thanksgiving day in 2019.

Joshebel Ramlakhan, 21, a media studies student, usually spends the holiday with her big Latinx family. It’s not unusual for 30 family members to gather over plates of roasted pork with white rice and lentils at Ramlakhan’s aunt’s house. Instead, after a recent positive diagnosis for her cousin, she is staying tight in Jamaica, Queens with her parents and younger sister. 

“I feel sad about missing our family traditions and not being able to have my grandmother over, but we do not want to risk infecting more family members since she has serious heart conditions,” says Ramlakhan.

Instead, they will be doing a video meeting on Whatsapp with her cousins and boyfriend to keep her grandmother company and make the best of it. 

Manahil Jafri, a political science and economic student at Hunter College.

Manahil Jafri, 18, a freshman at Hunter College, does not look forward to the holidays this year. She feels discouraged due to a failed attempt to gather her family for the Muslim holiday Eid Al Adha this past summer. She admits how awkward it was not able to hug her loved ones.

Jafri and her family usually travel to her extended family in Canada but since Covid-19 cases have recently risen to 2.5% in New York, they decided not to take the risk and instead plan on using facetime to communicate with her family on Thanksgiving day. 

For travelers, Governor Andrew Cuomo established new protocols permitting people to “test out” of the mandatory 14-day quarantine. This only applies to any traveler coming to New York State from a noncontiguous state, US territory or CDC level 2 or level 3 country.

Since November 4, travelers who were out-of-state for more than 24 hours will have to get tested for Covid-19 three days before arrival. Upon arrival, a three-day quarantine must take place. However, travelers who were out of state for less than 24 hours only need to get tested within four days of arrival for Covid-19 and fill out a traveler form.

Kayla Benjamin, a sophomore at Hunter College.

In normal times before Covid-19, Kayla Benjamin,19, a sophomore at Hunter College, would have been having a feast for Thanksgiving at her aunt’s house.

“I always take time to reflect on the things I have and the blessings I have, more so than I do during the rest of the year,” says Benjamin. “Thanksgiving might hold more meaning to be thankful because of what we’ve experienced this year.” 

This year, only she and her mother will be spending the holiday at home watching movies. Even if her extended family decides to gather this year, her mother will not allow her to leave the house and take the risk of catching the coronavirus. 

Eleanor Cannon, a senior at Hunter College, at Thanksgiving last year with her mother and brother.

“I am feeling very all over the place about the holidays this year. I would usually be in Florida with family for the holidays but because of Covid, that won’t be happening,” says Eleanor Cannon, a journalism student at Hunter College.

In prior years, Cannon’s family usually had a huge feast and invited friends over for Thanksgiving but this year she will be spending the holiday with her mother and planning on baking sweets and binge eating takes out food. 

“This year will definitely be different, but I am trying to look at it in a positive light instead of negative since this entire year has brought a ton of distraught to all of us,” says Cannon.


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