Students find new ways to celebrate Thanksgiving, Black Friday due to COVID-19


Submitted Photo: Ava Beckman

In 2016, freshman Ava Beckman and her father, David Beckman, collect food from the kitchen counter on Thanksgiving. Beckman said her family normally celebrates Thanksgiving with many family members, but this year, due to the coronavirus, will most likely only celebrate Thanksgiving with immediate family. Beckman said, “I would say just go ahead and make those changes to be safe. It’s better to be safe than sorry. I’d say you would rather have a smaller Thanksgiving celebration and not have anybody get sick, instead of having a big celebration and then half those people have COVID and it’s a very dangerous virus, somebody could be in the hospital, somebody could pass away.”

Tsion Daniel

For senior Logan Tullai, as for many students at this school, Thanksgiving is an annual family tradition. For Tullai, Thanksgiving serves as a time of reflection.

“It’s a good time to reflect on the year and spend some time with family and friends; it’s a nice time to be together,” Tullai said. “When it’s starting to get a little bit colder outside, it’s a good (holiday) to celebrate because it’s inside and is kind of a chance to reconnect with people that maybe you haven’t talked to in a while. Because some of (our) family friends that we have live out of state, it’s a good time to kind of reconnect and it’s just nice to have a nice Thanksgiving dinner with our family too.”

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tullai and his family altered their Thanksgiving celebration plans to lower the risk of contracting the virus. 

“Not always, but sometimes we definitely do have friends come and join us at Thanksgiving dinner or we will go to their house out-of-state. But this year, it will just be our own family,” Tullai said. “Especially having a high-risk parent, it’s kind of important to keep things as safe as possible, and it’s also just for the good of the community to not be potentially creating some sort of spreader situation.”

Tullai is not alone. According to a 2020 consumer survey by Numerator, around 70% of Americans intend on altering their Thanksgiving celebrations this year due to the coronavirus. Furthermore, a 2020 Holiday Travel Confidence Report by Hopper found that out of the consumers surveyed, 39% said they normally do not travel during the holidays and they plan to do the same this year. 21% of respondents said they would ordinarily travel during the holidays, but plan to not travel this year.

Freshman Ava Beckman also said Thanksgiving is a holiday that she and her family cherish.

In 2016, now-freshman Ava Beckman (center) makes a Thanksgiving dish with her aunt Barb (right), and grandma June (not pictured). Beckman said she helped make deviled eggs. “(We) were making deviled eggs which is kind of a tradition for us when we visit that side of the family,” Beckman said. (Submitted Photo: Ava Beckman)

“Usually we celebrate (Thanksgiving) with family, whether it’s grandparents, cousins, (or) aunts and uncles. We get together, we usually watch the parade and then we spend the rest of the day together cooking and eating the meal,” Beckman said. “It’s a time to spend with your family and friends and just to look back on everything that you’ve done that year and what you have and you’re grateful for.”

Moreover, Beckman said her family is in the process of modifying their Thanksgiving celebration tradition because of the coronavirus. 

“I’m not sure if we’re going to be eating with family—it might just be (our) immediate family (or) it might be with grandparents—but we’re definitely not going to have a lot of people,” she said. “It’s important to keep ourselves safe and keep our family safe. We don’t want a whole bunch of people over at our house; say that one of us has COVID, then a lot of us could have COVID and we would rather (have) us be safe.”

Dr. John Christenson, Medical Director of Infection Prevention at Riley Hospital for Children, said families should not gather with anyone this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My recommendation to people is that they should not gather with anyone this season for one simple reason: the amount of infections out in the community is very, very high right now. There are many cases of coronavirus infections that are occurring in the community and when you look at the major risk factors right now for acquiring the viruses, (they are) the fact that people are getting together and gathering and then they’re lowering the fences, they’re not keeping social distance and they’re not using masks,” Christenson said. “So right now, gatherings and small gatherings with family members, people getting together to watch football games or just to hangout, is enough to spread the virus and that is the one of the major reasons why we’re having so many cases right now in the United States. We’re having more numbers right now in a given day compared to what we had back in March, especially in Indiana.”

In addition to celebrating Thanksgiving, many also participate in Black Friday shopping, which occurs the day after Thanksgiving. However, this year, according to the Washington Post, many stores started sales early in order to promote safety. 

Tullai said his family will shop online for Black Friday.

“Well frankly, we don’t do a lot of shopping. It’s not like we rush to the store on Black Friday. Usually, we do most of the shopping for gifts and things for other people online,” Tullai said. “You can get exactly the right thing you’re looking for for somebody (by shopping online). It’s also nice because there is a little bit more flexibility of where you can look around and there are more options. In about the same amount of time you would spend at one store, you can look at a couple different places online.”

While Tullai said his family does not shop on Black Friday frequently, Beckman said her family sometimes does and is most likely going to shop online this year as well due to the possibility of acquiring the coronavirus from shopping in-person.

“We’re probably not going to go Black Friday shopping just because it’s always very crowded (and) there are a lot of people.” Beckman said. “We have definitely done a lot more online shopping. (While) we still go grocery shopping in person, we buy just about everything else online. It’s important just because with COVID we want to keep ourselves safe from other people and we want to keep people around us safe and if we’re going shopping, we could be touching stuff that has COVID on it.”

Christenson also said his family will shop online and that others should do the same.

“(There is) no question (that) online shopping is safer than shopping with other people, especially with other people who you do not know. If you had the store all for yourself, for your family for example, then there would be no problem because you live together (and) you know how well you practice your infection prevention measures,” Christenson said. “The problem comes when you’re hanging out with a bunch of people in the store and you have no idea who they are, and when you’re getting in line to pay, you’re getting very close to each other (which is) very risky right now. And then you’re done with shopping and then you say, ‘Oh let’s go eat something,’ and then you go to a restaurant and that poses a risk as well. So, you’re better off buying all your gifts online.”

A 2020 poll by the Morning Consult shows a similar attitude towards in-person Black Friday shopping as 39% of Americans intend on shopping online for Black Friday, while a much smaller percentage of Americans, 12%, plan to shop in-person. Additionally, 52% of Americans do not intend to partake in Black Friday.

Christenson also said people should remember that safety measures such as wearing a mask, being socially distant from people, having good hand hygiene, and avoiding gatherings are taken to better preserve their health.

Chloe Sun, Emily Sandy

“The most important thing that people need to keep in mind is that making these changes in our lives, when it comes to Thanksgiving and Black Friday and even Christmas, they seem like they’re the end of the world, but they’re not. These are small sacrifices that we have to do to not only keep our families and ourselves healthy, but at the same time, they contribute greatly to the community’s health. When you look at the state of Indiana, over 4,000 people have died in the state of Indiana, including children,” Christenson said. “So, it’s very important that we keep in mind that these small sacrifices that we’ve put in place and do have greater benefits in preventing disease in the community and it allows us to basically, eventually return to a more normal life.”