Throughout most of her life, senior Xiao Chen never heard about the holiday of Thanksgiving.
“At every festival in China that we have, appreciation is included in it,” Chen says. “In the Mid-Autumn Festival, we appreciate the natural forces of the world, like the moon and the sun, and we share thanks for the amazing year.”
Since moving to the U.S., Chen has experienced many American holidays, such as Thanksgiving.
“I went to Thanksgiving last year, and the year before that I went to a friend’s party,” Chen says. “I think that it is a really fun thing, but it is so different than the one’s in China. China’s is more about appreciation, and America’s is more about eating.”
But for many families in the Carmel area, Thanksgiving provides a four-day holiday weekend to hold family traditions, eat good food, give thanks and, maybe, try something new.
Senior Ivan Davidek, who has recently taken on a vegan diet, doesn’t yet know what he is going to eat on Thanksgiving.
“I’m trying to not slaughter some innocent animals,” Davidek says. “So I’ll probably just buy some regular food that contains no meat.”
Davidek is proud of his vegan diet and will not give it up for one holiday.
“When I took on this diet, I knew that there would be things that I couldn’t participate in,” Davidek says.
“But I think that my vegan diet has a positive impact on both my health and the environment.”
Davidek confesses that he will probably go to the store and buy traditional Thanksgiving products that are vegan.
“I’ll probably just buy a vegan turkey, vegan stuffing and vegan ham,” Davidek says. “I would be able to enjoy a regular Thanksgiving without going against my values.”
The Patels, vegetarians, are another family that chooses not to eat meat on Thanksgiving day.
“The table has all of the things that a typical Thanksgiving meal would have,” freshman Dilan Patel says. “We just replace all of the meat products with soy foods. Typically we have soy turkey, soy stuffing and soy ham.”
Patel says his parents just make a quick trip to Whole Foods to get all of the soy essentials.
“We get all of our soy meats from Whole Foods,” Patel says. “My mom usually makes all of the other things, like the salad and bread rolls.”
Thanksgiving dinner also serves as a family reunion for the Patel family.
“We typically celebrate Thanksgiving by having all our grandparents coming over to our house,” Patel says.
Patel notes that this is how he has had Thanksgiving every year, and it has almost become traditional in nature.
“I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life,” Patel says. “And I don’t think that I would ever think about tasting meat. Being vegetarian has become something that I just do automatically.”
While both the Patel and Davidek family have a meatless Thanksgiving, senior Hannah Kim mixes Korean food with the traditional Thanksgiving meal.
“Alongside of the traditional dishes, we usually incorporate some Korean dishes as well,” Kim says. “We usually have some kimchi or a plate of bulgogi on the table. We always substitute rice with pasta because my parents don’t like pasta that much.”
One of the most interesting substitutes that the Kim family makes is substituting the traditional turkey with a turbaconducken, a turducken wrapped in bacon.
“In my family we make turducken, which looks like a turkey, but is actually a chicken stuffed into a duck, which is stuffed into a turkey,” Kim says. “Recently we have been wrapping it in bacon.”
The Kim family also uses the Thanksgiving break to set up their Christmas tree.
“We all go Christmas tree hunting before dinner,” Hannah Kim says. “After dinner, we usually set the tree up. It’s kind of turned into a tradition.”
While some families eat interesting foods, other families use their Thanksgiving go on various trips and attend family reunions.
The Bockus family has recently had a tradition of going on various trips instead of staying at home and eating turkey dinner.
“Couple years past, we took a cruise to Mexico for Thanksgiving,” junior Madison Bockus says. “This year, we are planning to go to Yosemite.”
Bockus plans to go to Yosemite not to just experience the great wildlife and outdoors, but also to see family.
“My grandparents are coming, so it is going to be really interesting,” Bockus says. “We used to get together with the entire family to have Thanksgiving, but then it started to get really tense and awkward because they just started to watch football all of the time.”
Junior William Tucker says that his Thanksgiving consists of a huge family reunion.
“We usually have a family reunion where we all go to our grandmother’s, who lives in Big Sur,” says Tucker, whose family has a Thanksgiving tradition of many family activities, starting with a big party at their grandmother’s house.
“Then the next day we usually hike Soberanes, but since it burned we don’t know where we are going to go this year,” Tucker says. “But we usually go party, do a hike, and then we go to the airport and fly planes because my dad and uncle own airplanes.”
According to those CHS students interviewed, although Thanksgiving can be a time where interesting traditions are practiced, Thanksgiving ultimately provides a time to reflect on the past year and give thanks to the community, families and friends.