Pacific Students Navigate Thanksgiving During the Pandemic

Jan 18, 2021
The Pacifican

By: Jane Hwang

Holidays, for many, are often pleasant ways for people to gather with friends and family and make fun memories that will last a lifetime. However, due to COVID-19, celebrations are going to look a lot different this year, especially for those who are traveling. According to Elaine Glusac, in her article “Holiday Travel and Safety: 5 Things We Know”, Destination Analysts’ market research firm discovered in their most recent weekly survey that “only 28% [of 1,200 Americans] expected to travel for the holidays”. For some of the university’s students, COVID-19 has caused them to revise their original holiday plans that involve traveling.

Zahid Rasuli, Pre-Dent/Biology ’23, and his family often go to his grandparents’ home on Thanksgiving to cook food and go Black Friday shopping together but he notes that this year, the plan is to either have less people attend or move to the backyard.

“The downsides to celebrating online is that you don’t get to see them in person and it does not really feel as special,” Rasuli says. “The good thing is that it gives people incentives to call people they haven’t called in a while because there wouldn’t be a crowd of people distracting you from your phone.”

Christmas is a holiday that Janelle Barayuga, Psychology ’24, always looks forward to. She recalls a pleasant memory that occurred one Noche Buena, the Filipino name for Christmas Eve, while she was in the Philippines with her family: during the middle of cooking and cleaning, everyone spontaneously began to sing, dance, and laugh while using pots and pans as instruments. “Doing everything virtually is tiring itself, but all in all, it’s for everyone’s safety because traveling has a major impact on everyone’s health,” says Barayuga. “I think it won’t be the same comparing pre-COVID times to now but as long as we put in the effort to maintain traditions and have fun, the happiness and memories that were shared before will carry onto now.”

For some university students, despite the limitations placed on traveling, COVID-19 have not affected their plans significantly. Tiaam Majzoubi, English ’24, often celebrates Christmas with just her family rather than inviting people over or attending other people’s parties so she doesn’t think that COVID-19 will affect her family too much. Majzoubi supposes that most other families are going to utilize Zoom or FaceTime so everyone can stay safe while saving money. “I think people will find new ways of interacting with family,” says Majzoubi. She notes that there have been ways to work around certain restrictions while keeping people safe. “Just recently, the nursing home where my grandfather lives introduced a plastic dome that family members can use to see their folks and interact with them in person.”

For those who are planning on traveling to visit other family members in different states or countries, Hillary Simon’s article “What to expect during holiday travel during COVID-19 pandemic” brings to light some notes made by Dr. Michael Saag, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Alabama Birmingham, regarding holiday travels and airports. While he states that exposure is less likely to happen with proper spacing and mask wearing on airplanes, there is still some risk.

“ if you are flying home…be careful at the airport and when you get to your destination, stay home. Do not visit restaurants or bars as those pose a higher risk of contracting the virus…I think we need to take precaution and…have smaller groups, 5–7 people…It won’t be the same but we’re in unusual times.”