Family time, giving thanks to the good in life, and of course, the big ol’ turkey are some of the few ways Thanksgiving is celebrated. People who celebrate this holiday every 4th Thursday of November, all have their own way of making it special. As a result, we asked a few people from the CIS community who celebrate Thanksgiving about their annual holiday customs and how they changed with the limitations the COVID-19 pandemic brought upon us.

How do you celebrate Thanksgiving and who do you celebrate with?

Renzo: I celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. My relatives from different regions and countries come back to Cebu to celebrate this event at our grandparent’s house. We celebrate it by having a simple dinner, and using that time to catch up with each other.

Mikyla: My family usually holds dinner with our close family and friends at our house. Before we eat we always make sure to go around and say what we’re thankful for, and spend the rest of the night eating and talking. 

What were you grateful for in last year’s Thanksgiving?

Mr. Smith: Well that was a tough one wasn’t because there, you know, we didn’t have an opportunity really to go out. If I recall, (..) we’d have a Thanksgiving dinner. There was a restaurant downtown that would host in Cebu that would have these big Thanksgiving style dinners. We used to go there. But last year, no, I think I was just thankful that everyone was healthy. You know, my wife had just, we just, you know found out we were pregnant with our daughter so that was a big deal. We were really happy about that and I think just thankful that people were healthy and happy considering, you know, the COVID and all that that was probably a big one.

What is your favorite part of the celebration? 

Renzo: My favorite part about Thanksgiving is playing games with my cousins. Usually after dinner, we go to my room to play games on the PS5 or bet against each other in poker. 

Mikyla: My favorite part of Thanksgiving is just spending time with the people that mean the most to me, and just talking about anything. I think that’s the beauty of the holiday – to be appreciative of the things and the people around you.

What Thanksgiving food is a staple at your home?

Mr. Smith:  I was hoping you’d ask that question. (…) It’s called green bean casserole and that one is always a staple, no matter where you go someone always knows how to make it. It’s like you use cream of mushroom soup and then we use green beans and then you put fried onions on top that are really crispy. You know, it’s a really popular recipe it seems to be very Midwestern but actually it seems like all Americans I ever hang out with, you know, overseas, they all seem to know that recipe and have had it as children so that’s my number one favorite because it always reminds me of, you know, Thanksgiving.

How has the way you celebrate Thanksgiving changed since the pandemic? 

Renzo: We celebrate Thanksgiving just within the family, so despite the changes of the pandemic, our family has continued to celebrate Thanksgiving similarly. However, because of the lockdown and travel ban, some of my relatives weren’t able to come back to Cebu. 

Mikyla: The only thing that changed in our Thanksgiving celebration last year was the fact that we couldn’t celebrate with the people we normally celebrate with due to the Covid limitations. However, it gave my family a chance to have an intimate celebration for Thanksgiving.

Any plans for your Thanksgiving celebrations this year?

Mr. Smith: Yeah, not really. I haven’t thought that for him because again I, well I guess everything’s back, kind of, to normal here, I wouldn’t mind going to that place for Thanksgiving in Cebu where we used to go. You know a number of us did that so I’ll probably try to get together with some people. It really depends on what’s open and available. 

For Renzo, as a Chinese-Filipino, why do you think you and your family celebrate an American or Canadian event?

Renzo: My family celebrates Thanksgiving because they value the purpose of the celebration. They believe that it’s very important for us, as a family, to get back together to share our gratitude and love to each other. It is a great opportunity to strengthen our bond as a family.

For Mikyla, what is your favorite Thanksgiving moment with your family?

Mikyla: In 2019 my Uncle and cousins left to live in the U.S., so I didn’t have my cousins to hangout with during the holiday, so my parents let me invite a few of my friends for Thanksgiving dinner. It was nice having them there for company, and it was exciting introducing them to our family’s Thanksgiving food!

For Mr. Smith, how do you think your Thanksgiving celebration this year will change now that you have a daughter?

Mr. Smith: Well it’ll probably be a highchair and lots of diapers and wet wipes. (…) I had hoped that if we go somewhere I can bring her with me too, so we can say this is Sabine’s first Thanksgiving, you know. That’s kind of a big deal. 

Article by Justin D. (Grade 12), Renoa K. (Grade 11) & Sean K. (Grade 11); Feature Image by Anya C. (Grade 11)

The views expressed in this article represent the personal views of the author and should not be taken to represent the views of Dragon’s Print and Cebu International School.

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