Arts & Life

CSULB students share how their Thanksgiving celebrations have changed due to the pandemic

Long Beach State students are sharing how they plan on celebrating Thanksgiving due to the restrictions associated with mitigating the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Large gatherings and big feasts are put on hold for the first time this holiday, but students are getting creative.

Destiny Romero, far right, with her friends, CSULB second-years Catalina Perez and Jaime Haro. Photo courtesy by Destiny Romero.

“The past two years, I’ve had Friendsgivings,” Destiny Romero, a second-year criminal justice major, said.

Typically, Romero would spend time with her maternal side of the family for Thanksgiving, and later in the day with her paternal side.

Due to the pandemic, Romero hasn’t heard of any details yet regarding Thanksgiving plans with her family.

But, Romero’s friend thought to mash up Halloween and Friendsgiving this year since they didn’t get to celebrate on that day.

Romero’s “spooky friendsgiving” consisted of a small group of friends who got together and set up a projector in their backyard, hung “Stranger Things”-esque string lights to watch “Children of the Corn” and ate pasta with sliders.

Romero was supposed to work on Thanksgiving and Black Friday this year since she works at Los Angeles Unified School District’s Grab and Go food distribution, but LAUSD told her and her coworkers that they had the weekend off.

“The job I have right now, it’s been so eye-opening for me because I’ve talked to a lot of people that lost their jobs and they don’t have the same income as before,” Romero said. “They’re so grateful for the food we give out, and my main concern was like, ‘Oh, now these people that depend on us to give them food, we’re not going to be working that day.’”

Romero was so moved by the families who depend on Grab and Goes that she plans to conduct a food drive of her own later in the year. Romero said it’s still in the works however, due to possible licenses and paperwork she may have to file in order to have the food drive authorized.

“I just want to change that this year, maybe do something to help the community along with being able to celebrate [Thanksgiving] with my family,” Romero said.

Jonathan Castellanos, second from left, seated with his three sisters. Photo courtesy by Jonathan Castellanos.

Jonathan Castellanos, a fourth-year anthropology major, said that he plans on spending Thanksgiving this year with his immediate family, which includes his sisters, his parents and niece.

“It’ll be more like a regular dinner than an actual Thanksgiving dinner,” Castellanos said. “I don’t think it’ll have that type of special holiday flare just because everyone can’t really get together.”

Castellanos’ Thanksgiving traditions included him and his father watching football with his uncle and cousins who would visit from Mexico. He would also cook their Thanksgiving feast with his mother and grandmother. The three would start cooking the feast around 8 a.m.

“Our place is usually the one everyone comes to, so we have to start cleaning up everything and start prepping really early,” Castellanos said.

Castellanos typically spends the holiday with his girlfriend on Black Friday, although they tend to avoid the swarm of holiday shoppers.

Castellanos said that he plans to give his grandparents a call to wish them a happy Thanksgiving since they won’t be able to come over this year.

Annalee Santa Cruz, far right, having dinner with her mom, dad, brother, uncle, aunt and cousins. Photo courtesy by Annalee Santa Cruz.

Fifth-year food science major Annalee Santa Cruz usually celebrates Thanksgiving at her aunt’s house with her dad’s side of the family. Her father’s cousins, 95-year-old uncle and her cousins were looking forward to seeing each other.

“This year, unfortunately, we cannot all get together,” Santa Cruz said. “My parents, brother and I will be together at our house this year, just the four of us.”

Santa Cruz plans to bring her great uncle Thanksgiving dishes like turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes.

“We are just going to drop it off because we cannot stay and eat with him,” Santa Cruz said.

Santa Cruz proposed to her immediate family to do a “Thanksgiving takeover,” by revamping traditional dishes like dressing or casseroles.

The food science major plans to level up turkey day by roasting sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts with bacon, making a green bean casserole with fresh mushrooms, green beans and garlic mashed potatoes.

“It is unfortunate we cannot all be together, but I am looking forward to making and eating some delicious food,” Santa Cruz said.

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