The Significance of Thanksgiving Amidst COVID-19

Lilian Chong, Janell Wang, Kailani Yamashiro, Madison Yee, and Pamina Yung

It doesn’t come off as a surprise that the pandemic has greatly altered our lives and cut us off from a miscellany of activities. Our days, which have been mostly mundane from the pandemic-born conditions don’t make it any easier to remain optimistic or thankful. Whether we realize it or not, gratitude is one of the most important tools we can utilize to our advantage during these trying circumstances. When we give thanks for small, seemingly insignificant things every day, we make those things visible to us. While reading these sentimental blurbs about Thanksgiving and things five people are especially grateful for, take some time to appreciate the good in your life by making sure to count your blessings.


Lilian Chong – Thanksgiving—so-called, the “turkey” holiday of the year—is a day where we give thanks and share our time with those we value in our lives. A roasted turkey is probably everyone’s favorite drooling Thanksgiving dish. But aside from the usual yearnings of Thanksgiving’s sweet delights and salty meals, I often get the question, “What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?” This Thanksgiving is something very much unusual from the Thanksgiving I would normally spend with my friends and families. For this holiday, I would like to give thanks to a collective and abstract noun—education. Why am I grateful for something that is not a person or a living thing? Well, since everything has switched to remote learning, the education system is not in its normality—the number of kids out of school has risen; the virtual environment is inaccessible for many. However, I’m in a situation where education is still accessible and still present in my life now as an online student. Especially during these harsh times, being thankful is something you should do regardless of a holiday incentivizing you. Now that the year is coming to an abrupt closure, pause and reflect on some things you are grateful for this year!


Janell Wang – Thanksgiving to me has always been a day of gratitude and family gatherings. Then there was, of course, dinner with my grandparents. However, with the current situation that will be impossible for this year. Being stuck in quarantine all day for over half a year now has really made me reflect and look back at all the things that I missed. I never realized until now all of the simple things that I have taken for granted. I missed being able to hang out with my friends and go anywhere that we wanted, go out on family outings, ice skating, being in a physical classroom, and just in general having the freedom to go out anywhere. I had never thought in a million years that something like this would happen. My daily monotonous routine was something that I had grown accustomed to and seemed like everything suddenly stopped. It made me realize that I should be more grateful that I had these opportunities and not to take them for granted. It’s also lucky that we have access to school during a situation like this, even if it’s been really tough. Despite this crazy situation, it’s important to be thankful during these times that you are safe, as safety comes as a priority before anything else.


Kailani Yamashiro – During Thanksgiving we take a moment to think of the things we are thankful for, hence the name Thanks-giving which, if you reverse, is giving thanks. To me personally, Thanksgiving is the day we spend all together and just embrace life and love. My family isn’t really religious, but on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter we will give our thanks and say Amen. This is really important to me because it’s realizing how good we have it and never taking it for granted. COVID-19 showed us again that we have a whole lot to be thankful for; many families and people in general have lost a loved one to this disease or this year in general with everything happening. I remember a tradition of always going to Knotts Berry Farm on Thanksgiving day with my family and relatives for some good old chicken dinner. Our laughter mixed with other families will be hands down my favorite sounds as it relates to being happy. Me being in quarantine has been quite hard, because although I am attached to my phone, I didn’t have the motivation to text my friends. I started to go into my shell, but after a few long paragraph texts from my friends and some I sent myself after not texting for a month or two, I realized that you may feel alone, but you aren’t. I know it’s a given that you’re not alone, since you are told that from day one, but being isolated from your friends and not being able to give hugs really impacts your emotional and mental health. I am beyond grateful for my friends who have gotten me through this trying time our world is facing. It’s the little things that we will forever remember whether it be a Facetime among us, a call, or driving around with the windows down and music blasting, and I am thankful for all of these things.


Madison Yee – Aside from the inviting feast and one week break that everyone anticipates each year, Thanksgiving for me has always represented the importance and strong meaning of gratefulness. While the word “thanks” is very broad, when I envision it, I instantly think about the wide range of people and things that I am grateful for. Often, I find that when we get caught up in our daily lives, we can get sidetracked from remembering to live in the moment and to appreciate what we are lucky to have, whether it be a specific moment, person, place, or event. Not only that, this holiday lets me truly commemorate and hold onto nostalgia from past memories and fortunate times. Especially with the unprecedented pandemic, it has given me a new perspective on my values, while giving myself time to fully look into my future, goals, and how I want to impact others in a beneficial way. I have come to a realization that even though this seemingly everlasting experience is not the ideal situation, I have been able to discover myself, which I have a lot of thanks for. Being “stuck” at home, away from my old reality has brought me additional appreciation. This is for past events, traveling, being able to see my friends and family, in-person education, and healthcare workers who constantly risk their lives to save and protect loved ones from the virus. While this might not be the happiest point in our history, I believe that it has allowed everyone around the world to feel extra significance in giving thanks.


Pamina Yung – Each year when Thanksgiving comes around, I eagerly look forward to spending time with my family and gathering together with them for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving also makes me think about taking the time to give to others who are not as fortunate in ways such as donating to charity or helping out at homeless shelters or soup kitchens. To me, Thanksgiving is about considering others, their needs, and their interests before your own. It is a time we should take to go out of our way to assist others whom we have the power to help. Gestures of thankfulness can come in any shape and form. The picture I took is of a bench I came across that has a plaque commemorating the mother of the family who donated the bench to the park. The words on the plaque, “Your gleaming soul – light will never be forgotten,” exhibits a timeless gratitude, which is something that Thanksgiving reminds us to share all year round. I am very grateful to have had more time in the day to take care of myself more and focus on the things I can control amid COVID-19 when it seems that all you can do is wait. Unlike before quarantine, I now eat breakfast and make my bed daily. Because of these and other healthy habits I’ve developed during quarantine, I’ve greatly improved my mental and emotional state. In addition, about once a month, my parents go out to get me boba, which is my glimmer of hope during the tough demands of online school. Appreciating what you have is extremely meaningful, especially right now, because your whole life could change in a flash, and it would be a shame to take anything or anyone for granted. From months of being in quarantine, I’ve realized how much of an introvert I am, and also how important it is to remain optimistic, despite and especially during, a situation such as the COVID-19 pandemic.