Property of the editors: Amid a pandemic, traditions matter even more

By Kristen Meyer, Editor-in-chief

My family relies on my vegan aunt to cook Thanksgiving every year. Now, you might ask why we, an Italian family, trust the most important meal of the year to someone who can’t even try the food. My short answer would be that we care more about the Christmas meal, which is carefully prepared by three-generations of my family. However, my long answer is that we value tradition that has developed over decades of a growing family. 

I never thought I would miss my aunt’s undeniably dry turkey and stuffing–until this year. Fearful of transmitting the disease to my grandmother, my family has decided to cancel our Thanksgiving traditions, like so many other families. We are staying home, making chicken instead of turkey, and taking time to appreciate that we are surviving a pandemic together. 

Although we spend a lot of time as a family in quarantine, I also enjoy being alone. The beauty of isolation is the ability to think. In between episodes of “Gilmore Girls,” I came to the realization that I didn’t just take everyday life without a pandemic for granted; I took the availability of special days and meals, like Thanksgiving, for granted. Only when deprived of these opportunities do we realize their value. 

There have been times when I wanted to skip a family gathering. I wanted to skip my great aunt’s list of medical issues and complaints. I wanted to skip the incessant questions about my college plans and my future. I, frankly, wanted to skip the bad food and polite conversation. Today, there is nothing I want more than to be surrounded by my family. 

For what seems like this entire year, we have heard what people have lost due to the pandemic. The Class of 2020 lost their prom and graduation. The Class of 2021 lost, hopefully, only part of their senior year. We have lost friends and family and 10 months of our lives. However, nobody–not the news or your friends or your family–talks about what we have gained from a new pandemic perspective. 

We have earned the ability to appreciate the little things and moments in life. Each moment is not guaranteed; each conversation with each other is fleeting; each tradition can become a distant memory that is lost to circumstance. “Carpe diem” may be the cheesiest way to communicate my message, but it is the best way to capture the idea of appreciating today because tomorrow is truly unknown. 

Although my Thanksgiving looks a little different this year and the food will be much better, I am going to miss my grandma’s backhanded comments about my aunt’s food, my family yelling at the football games, and my mom and uncle arguing over how to cut the turkey. Most of all, I am going to miss celebrating each tradition and moment with my family.

This is my last holiday season at home full time. I will value the memories that I have despite–and because of–the pandemic, and I encourage each and every one of you to do the same. 

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