As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, many students are preparing to return home and celebrate with their families. Through the ups and downs of the holiday season, students also face a number of technology-related challenges when trying to communicate with their families.
Hispanic Thanksgiving by Esmerelda Maya
Esmerelda Maya, a Hispanic sociology major, started celebrating the holiday about three or four years ago.
Maya said her Thanksgiving tradition is a fusion of American and Hispanic flavors. She said her family incorporates classic American dishes like ham and potatoes and also incorporates elements of Mexican cuisine.
Maya said she was spending the holiday in her hometown of Columbus, Nebraska, joined by members of her immediate family. Her extended family can’t come to her house because they live out of state.
The transition to college introduced Maya to a broader culinary palette, extending beyond her familiar Mexican cuisine. Embracing American cuisine has become an important part of her Thanksgiving experience, she said, with Maya even trying her hand at cooking traditional American dishes during the holiday season.
On the role of technology, Maya said it plays a central role in coordinating Thanksgiving plans. From planning dates to sharing work and college schedules, platforms like Facebook serve as a digital hub for the family. Maya admitted to having occasional incidents, like she thought she was recording a moment on camera, only to find a blank video.
Maya said meeting the demands of academia during the Thanksgiving holiday can be stressful, especially with Black Friday deals and work commitments. Maya shared her strategy of prioritizing studies, but also acknowledged the understanding of her family, who recognize the challenges of balancing studies and celebrations.
Maya said her family’s cultural background shapes their celebration of Thanksgiving. The family embraces both American and Mexican elements, adding a spicy touch to the food. Without explicitly incorporating cultural decorations, they bring their identity to the table through flavors and traditions.
To manage stress, Maya said she focuses on completing academic tasks ahead of time and engages in stress-relieving activities, such as working out and cooking. These rituals allow him to fully enjoy the end of year celebrations with his family.
Technology enhances family connections during Thanksgiving, allowing Maya to share moments with her extended family members through Facebook. Games, including Mexican bingo, add a fun touch to the celebration, she said.
A Glimpse of Thanksgiving in Asia
Asia Tran, a pre-radiation science freshman juggling the university’s Chick-fil-A and Herbie’s Markets, shared her family’s Thanksgiving routine, a mix of traditional and personal American touches. The Tran family gets together and partakes in a mix of breakfast and classic Thanksgiving dishes, Tran said. Board games, especially the competitive Farkle dice game, have become a staple, adding a touch of excitement to the festivities.
In the Tran household, Thanksgiving is an opportune time for the older generation to navigate the world of technology. Tran’s grandparents, relatively new to smartphones, ask for help at these meetings, turning the holiday into an informal tech tutorial, she said. A humorous incident involving Tran’s grandfather’s first smartphone added a memorable touch to their Thanksgiving celebrations.
For Tran, her most treasured moments involve helping her grandparents carry food, anticipating the delicious scents that fill the air, and the spirited games of Farkle that ensue. Thanksgiving holds a special place in her heart, especially after the difficult times of COVID-19 and a return to a sense of normalcy, she said.
Tran’s Vietnamese and American background adds a unique flavor to the celebration, she said. While her father, originally from Vietnam, did not traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving, her American stepmother introduced the holiday to their family. The Tran family keeps the Thanksgiving menu predominantly American, reflecting the origins of the holiday but with a touch of personal tradition.
While acknowledging the potential stress associated with the holiday season, Tran said its proximity to his family’s home in Lincoln, Nebraska, eases the burden of travel. Her approach to stress management involves prioritizing the excitement of being reunited with loved ones and engaging in familiar, joyful traditions.
Blending Traditions and Technology: A Thanksgiving Perspective with Kayla
UNL graduate Kayla Carlson spoke about her family dynamics and the evolution of Thanksgiving traditions. Growing up in a predominantly white family with a touch of Hispanic heritage, Carlson said Thanksgiving in his family was a traditional affair, focused on turkey, mashed potatoes and quality family time.
When asked about the emotions associated with the holiday season, Carlson’s response is simple but resonates with enthusiasm. Looking forward to seeing family again and enjoying delicious food creates an atmosphere of joy, she said. When it comes to managing stress during the holiday season, Carlson takes a pragmatic approach: get things done and avoid unnecessary stress.
Carlson reflected on his cultural background, emphasizing the simplicity of his family’s Thanksgiving celebrations. Even though there is a nod to the Hispanic heritage on one side of the family, the emphasis remains on the traditional elements of Thanksgiving, devoid of specific cultural or religious rituals.
Carlson said family gossip is part of their holiday experience, with a cousin stirring up drama becoming a topic of conversation. Her family gatherings are described as casual – just a casual lunch at Grandma’s house.
Addressing the impact of technology on Thanksgiving celebrations, Carlson said it improves communication. Carlson’s family is sending out invitations digitally, and messages of love and remembrance are bridging the gap for those who cannot attend. Seamlessly integrating technology allows the family to stay connected and inclusive while honoring cherished traditions, according to Carlson.