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Yes We Cran: The JCI Team Talks Thanksgiving in Quarantine

This Thanksgiving is shaping up to look very different from past years. While we’re closer than ever to finalizing a COVID-19 vaccine—with both Moderna and Pfizer reporting that their vaccines are performing well in trials—we’re still very much in the throes of a pandemic, and indoor dining with a large group is out of the question.

Whether opting for a low-key dinner at home or a virtual gathering, our team has plans to celebrate responsibly, and we hope we can inspire you to do the same!

As an international student, all my Thanksgiving celebrations have been Friendsgiving potlucks. Thanksgiving break is too short for most international students to visit home, so we'd get together and do our own version of Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of turkey, green beans, and mashed potatoes, we'd each cook a dish from our countries. This year's plague made potlucks a thing of the past, but I'll still be celebrating the long weekend with some cozy baking at home, video calls with friends and family, and hopefully a hike or two if the weather stays sunny!

Being raised in Texas meant lots of food and lots of family. Thanksgiving was less about honoring the holiday itself and more about catching up with extended family over plates of food packed from left to right. Ham, green beans, broccoli and cheese casserole, yams---and that’s just to start. This year will definitely be different, but I can’t wait to cook a huge meal for my immediate family, giving my mom a break from the task of Thanksgiving cooking.

We don’t have a lot of extended family, so our Thanksgivings were limited to just myself, my parents, and my brother and sister. We’d usually wake up aggressively early to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade whilst eating cinnamon rolls and guzzling way too many cups of coffee. After that, we’d eat a late lunch and then head to our local cinema to catch whatever was released that day. This year we’re meeting up at a midway point to celebrate safely together. It’s a bummer to not be going home (because that’s where the doggos are) but I’m happy to at least be together.

Growing up, my family checked every colonizer and appropriation box (think pilgrims, backyard teepees, and earnest recitation of the Thanksgiving myth) but at least we weren't religious and I didn't have to wait to say grace before diving into dinner. It was also a good excuse for the family to get the cousins together, so I mostly associate the day with warmth, combed hair, and corduroys.

I’m forging new traditions now, which will involve taking the family on a leisurely morning stroll, mac n’ cheese from scratch, and a quality ham (count me among the "turkey is overrated" camp). Dinner will be whenever it’s ready, and there will be floats on the muted TV. It'll just be our own little household this year, but extended family will be safely communicated with on the digital platform of their choice---after all, traditions should be flexible, with the spirit and intent honored if not the letter.

My family immigrated from Mexico and we were surprised to encounter this new holiday. We call it El día del pavo, or Turkey Day. We're not generally big into turkey, but Thanksgiving is the time of year my mom bakes a big Spanish-style turkey and we invite friends over. This year, we'll be celebrating quarantine-style with just my immediate family. Since it’s only a few of us, there's no need for a bird, so we're changing it up with some ribs in spicy green sauce, because why not?

Our family Thanksgivings are Hallmark-worthy: a fancy sit-down dinner with the good china, silverware, and crystal. This year we're smaller, but we're still going full ham (pun intended). My fiancé is using his legendary skills to smoke the turkey and ham. I'm pulling out the family recipes to make the dressing, cranberry sauce, candied yams, and appetizers all from scratch. My brother is in charge of the loaded mashed potatoes (plus pies from every coveted bakery in LA) while my sister-in-law is making her iconic green bean casserole. Finally, my daughter plans to bake her famous cheesecake. Can't beat that!

My family never liked the fuss of doing so much cooking on a weeknight, so our Thanksgiving celebrations were less about dinner and more about bonding over video games. It’s fun, doesn’t require hours in the kitchen, there’s no chance of a political debate, and best of all, we’re able to throw on some headsets and keep the tradition going this year from the safety of our homes.

Thanksgiving is about one thing and one thing only: yams topped with melted marshmallows, good and crispy. Family is important too, so I'll be spending the day at home with my wife and kids. As grateful as I am that we're all together, that also means less yams to go around...

I'm a first-generation American, so growing up, Thanksgiving meant tamales, champurrado, and homemade pumpkin pie followed by a Star Wars movie marathon where R2-D2 was pronounced “Arturito.” But since I’m an abysmal cook and a shame to my lineage, my quarantine Thanksgiving is going to look more like postmates tamales, postmates champurrado, and a movie marathon using Netflix Party. Not as rowdy as past years, but on the bright side, no need to dress up!


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