Beyond the turkey

The importance of family and tradition on Thanksgiving for students and faculty at LZHS


Photo by and used with the permission of Jed Owen

For the past couple of years, COVID has disrupted many peoples’ Thanksgiving plans. However, with the vaccine in place, families are starting to open up to more of the traditional gatherings before COVID.

Gurneer Sidhu, Secretary

On Thanksgiving, people across the country gather together to share a meal with their friends and family. However, there’s much more to do during this time of giving thanks than just having dinner. 

Traditions create a sense of belonging and community for many people and can help allow people to come closer together as a result, according to Danielle Matej, Spanish teacher.

“I think that traditions help create a sense of family and community and help you build a bond and it kind of grounds why you’re getting together, the whole aspect of why we sit down [to] have thanks, and have a meal,” Matej said.

Matej says that although she wants to create new and stronger Thanksgiving traditions this year with her husband, in years past, she and her mother “have typically run the hot chocolate race, or done like a turkey trot” around the time of Thanksgiving.

However, Thanksgiving traditions vary from person-to-person and from family-to-family. For Katherine Pyasik, sophomore, her family doesn’t “have any super distinct tradition for Thanksgiving,” she claims. For Thanksgiving, Pyasik and her family gather around their dinner table and go around sharing the things they’re grateful for.

“It helps to remind us of how fortunate we are. We don’t typically take time to reflect upon everything we have and tend to take it for granted without even noticing it,” Pyasik said.

As someone who says Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday Max Stapleton, security guard, also says Thanksgiving is a good time to be with family and to be thankful for everything you have.

“We always go up to my grandfather’s in Wisconsin for the weekend before Thanksgiving, just to spend time with family, all that stuff. And then we get together with everybody here in Illinois, for the actual Thanksgiving,” Stapleton said.

Stapleton will be hosting Thanksgiving this year after having not been “together in at least two years,” with his extended family, due to COVID. It isn’t just Stapleton’s family that had their Thanksgiving affected in 2020.

 Pyasik’s and Matej’s both say that their usual large Thanksgiving dinners had been reduced to immediate family because of COVID restrictions. This year, due to the vaccine, Pyasik and Matej both say that their families will be able to return to larger amounts of people for Thanksgiving dinner.

“Last year, my family was only able to have a small gathering. It was difficult for me because I wasn’t able to see my whole family on Thanksgiving, like I’d been able to in years past. We seem to be in a better situation with the pandemic with the vaccines and everything. I’m really excited to be able to gather with my entire family and catch up with them,” Pyasik said.

However, Matej says that Thanksgiving is not just a time to get together with family, but it is also a time meant for gratitude and self-reflection that can be done regardless of the size of a family. 

“Whether your family is super big or small, or really just you and one other person, I think that [Thanksgiving] is a great time to pause and really be grateful for what you have and the relationships you have in your life. I think that that’s why Thanksgiving is special because it really allows you to celebrate whatever relationships you have with whatever people no matter how big your family is,” Matej said.