College Students Come Home to a Different Thanksgiving


Photo courtesy of Hello I’m Nik via Unsplash (a free photo sharing website)

Thanksgiving is usually a time for friends and family to come together and reflect on shared memories. This year however, countless households have to change their traditions as they are affected by the coronavirus. As cases rise and the weather grows colder, it becomes increasingly difficult to see loved ones, let alone share a comforting meal with them.

Many college students chose to return home for Thanksgiving and stay through late January. The homecoming of these students forces many families to make difficult decisions not only in regards to Thanksgiving, but also to ensure that their child is safe and healthy. Despite the fact that most students are required to test negative for the coronavirus before coming home, there is still a chance that they could get sick while traveling on a plane, train, bus, or any method of public transportation. For this reason, numerous families will quarantine their college students until they are able to get a negative test result.

On Friday, November 20th my sister flew home from Ann Arbor, Michigan after testing negative for COVID-19 several days before. Although my family and I knew how safe my sister had been at the University of Michigan, we still felt it was the right decision to quarantine her and wear masks around her as a precaution until she retested negative. Luckily, we found out that she had tested negative the night before Thanksgiving so we were able to maintain the comfort of the holiday without having to worry about whether she was sick or not.

Not every family was as lucky as mine though. Some students either came home sick or did not have their test results back in time, meaning they were (most likely) unable to be close enough to their families to make Thanksgiving feel like a normal holiday. Whether families decided to play it safe or risk receiving a positive test result, no dinner table looked the same this year. Many families relied on Zoom to rekindle the connections between those at home and those who could not make it to Thanksgiving dinner. While we do not know what upcoming holidays and gatherings will look like, resources like Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, and Google Meet help to provide a sense of togetherness no matter how many miles apart families may be.