Students Alter Thanksgiving Traditions due to COVID-19


Photo provided by Matan Lagnado

Matan Lagnado stands beside the Thanksgiving meal with his brother and sister in 2017 before sitting down to enjoy the meal with the rest of his family.

Sara Wolf, Reporter

Senior Matan Lagnado cannot remember a year when he did not spend Thanksgiving surrounded by his loved ones. He always looked forward to playing football with his cousins and other relatives. Thanksgiving was a break from the stress of school, work and ridiculous arguments with siblings.

“This year, I am worried because it is the last Thanksgiving I will spend with my family before I go to college, and it won’t be safe enough for half of my family to join us or for playing any football,” Lagnado said.

One of Lagnado’s favorite Thanksgiving traditions is eating turkey and stuffing.

“My mother always dedicates the day before Thanksgiving to preparing the meal,” Lagnado said. “I am really not great at cooking, so I leave that part to her.”

Unfortunately, this is one of the numerous Thanksgiving traditions that is being scratched off of Lagnado’s dinner schedule.

Sophomore Bria Cumagun also struggles with the fear of exposing high-risk family members to coronavirus. Cumagun usually enjoys spending time with her five grandparents, but she is afraid of unintentionally giving them the virus.

“The last thing that I would want would be for my grandparents that have loved and cared for me my entire life to fall ill because of me,” Cumagun said. “I feel as though it is my responsibility to reciprocate this love by keeping them safe.”

In order to ensure that everyone remains healthy, Cumagun and her immediate family plan on celebrating Thanksgiving separated from their extended family. However, they still plan on meeting over Zoom for an hour so they do not have to miss out on all of their favorite traditions, such as playing Cards Against Humanity.

Freshman Phuong Bui has never celebrated Thanksgiving before. Bui was born in Vietnam and moved to the United States last year. Since her immigration, Bui has tried her best to participate in Vietnamese traditions.

“Instead of celebrating holidays like Thanksgiving that I don’t have much of a connection with, I enjoy celebrating holidays like the Vietnamese New Year,” Bui said. “However, Thanksgiving is also a great opportunity to spend time with my family and take a break from all of the stress in my life.”

This year, Bui is especially against celebrating Thanksgiving with family because, like Lagnado and Cumagun, she is afraid of spreading the virus due to the rising number of cases in Harris County.

Unlike Cumagun and Bui, Lagnado still plans on meeting with some of his extended family in-person while observing safety precautions. Lagnado is similarly afraid of putting his grandparents’ lives at risk. Because of this, the usual Thanksgiving dinner population is being lowered from 18 members to eight. The majority of the 10 individuals not attending are high-risk, including his grandparents.

“Thanksgiving gives me a chance to take a step back and appreciate the people that have made me who I am today,” Lagnado said. “As disappointed as I am that I will not get to see many of my family members, I have to remember that ensuring that they remain healthy is my main priority and that I am grateful to even have them in my life at all.”