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4 Ideas for Celebrating Thanksgiving at College

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Large dining room table beautifully set with a full thanksgiving dinner spread

As COVID-19 cases surge in the United States and travel becomes more difficult,  many college students are making the decision to remain at their university for Thanksgiving break. With many families making the safe decision to cancel any gatherings, many students will celebrate the holiday in an unusual fashion this year. However, there are still a number of ways to get festive this year, even with an abnormal climate surrounding the holiday season.

1) Zoom Thanksgiving Feast

By now, Zoom and other video apps have become a go-to solution for friends and family looking to connect amid the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. With its easy accessibility, large capacity for meetings, and simple design, Zoom has quickly become the staple home for meetings and classes. Family gatherings don’t have to be an exception.

With everyone able to join a video call, Thanksgiving meals can be shared over the phone. While it might be difficult for college students to cook the more elaborate dishes of a traditional Thanksgiving meal, students can hopefully make do with what they can find at the local grocery store. Additionally, there are countless ways to get creative with a dormitory microwave, especially with simple potato recipes and the now-iconic mug desserts that can be easily manipulated into the resemblance of a classic Thanksgiving pie.

An old recipe for rolls, on a stained lined paper, a recipe that has been in the family for years and modified over time.
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Because of the pandemic, the distance between college students and their loved ones is highly impacted, making, gathering for Thanksgiving dinner complicated and, for many, unsafe. However, by making use of today’s video technology, students can still share the upcoming holiday with their loved ones, no matter where they are in the world.

2) Pass on Traditional Recipes

One of the classic traditions associated with Thanksgiving is the food. No other holiday sets such a precedent for its meals, and Thanksgiving has established some of its dishes as once-a-year meals. With the distance between individuals at this time of year, it can be difficult for everyone to share their favorite recipes, but perhaps it’s a sign to pass on these traditional recipes to the next generation, who can create their own versions. 

The aforementioned dormitories can make this trickier for students, but there are still plenty of ways to get creative. While a whole turkey is difficult for anyone to perfect, some of the smaller recipes can be easily recreated with a little time and thought. Of course, guidance from parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles would be appreciated, and it would create an innovative tradition for these unusual times.  

3) Express Your Thanks

For some, this might be an obvious idea. Still, it can never hurt to express your gratitude a little more. This past year has drained everyone, so we must be especially aware and appreciative of how much we still have left. We’ve learned how much we take for granted, so now is the time to show love and gratitude, ether for one’s health, friends, family, home, or even work. On the days leading up to and following Thanksgiving Day, we should be sure to share our appreciation for the people closest to us and thank those who help make our lives a little easier.

A person in a blue shirt, standing and holding the fortune from a fortune cookie towards the camera, with the caption "You have so much to be thankful for."
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Many families go around the dinner table at home and share what they are most thankful for. For those celebrating together this year, that tradition can continue as planned. However, for those practicing social distancing or staving off the long trip home this week, there are several ways to show your recognition for the things that make your life better.

Again, Zoom and phone calls can play an important role here, but there are still plenty of opportunities to branch out for a long text, giving yourself a moment to think about what you want to say to precisely describe your love and appreciation for your friends and family. A mailed letter can be just as effective and even more personal. Even modern Facebook and Instagram posts can be shared with everyone. Regardless, it is all too important to show your love for those closest to you, especially at this time of year.

4) Delivery Meals

With social distancing being an important part of limiting the spread of COVID-19, many families will limit their gatherings or even forego them entirely this year. Traditionally, the week and day of Thanksgiving would involve all sorts of sharing of food. To maintain safety measures, our ability to do that has decreased substantially. However, it’s still possible to share the feast with our friends and family without gathering together in one place.

With just a few plastic Tupperware containers, you can easily package up Thanksgiving dishes for at-home delivery. Simply let the recipient know to expect it (or don’t, for a surprise!), drop it off at their door, and share the home-cooked food that is a custom of this holiday. This can especially be a treat for other college students living nearby, as many don’t have access to cooking their own meals in the dorms.

Regardless of how you celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday this year, it’s important to maintain safe practices and social distancing when possible. College students are acutely aware of the danger that comes from scattering nationwide for a week. With these few ideas, you can help to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while still celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday.

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