For many high school students, Thanksgiving is still one of their favorite holidays. Seen more than a day indulging in the long-awaited Thanksgiving dinner, the one special day symbolizes a cherished time for family members to come together, celebrate and express their gratitude.
The feelings of warmth and affection that come with this holiday season make their way into the home and family traditions of Katarina Kotanchek, a senior at Torrey Pines High School. Every Thanksgiving, her morning begins with two of her favorite things: watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and making gingerbread houses with her brothers.
“My middle brother gets back into town on Tuesday. My parents were out for the past two weeks, so the whole family will be together. I am very excited to spend time with family, relax and eat some good food,” Kotanchek said.
The theme of family reunions at Thanksgiving is also reflected in other homes like Carson Kuehnert’s, a senior at Torrey Pines High School. Besides the year his family spent Thanksgiving in his backyard during the pandemic, one tradition will again be revived. Kuehnert looks forward to spending the day at his grandparents’ house to enjoy his self-described “grandma’s best cooking.”
“Everybody pitches in, but my grandma makes most of the food. We eat turkey, mashed potatoes and my grandma’s famous noodles. For dessert, we have chocolate pie and my grandma’s special recipe, and my sister and I help make it because it is fun and tastes delicious,” Kuehnert said.
Thanksgiving serves as a time to celebrate with family and friends and also a time to give back to others. Having participated in community service events before during the holiday seasons, Minju Kim, a Del Norte High School senior, will spend her Thanksgiving break volunteering at Ronald McDonald House by decorating the service facilities.
“At the end of the year, I start reflecting on what I am thankful for or what has happened that has made me a better person. I think it just kind of translates into my ability to help others as well,” Kim said.
It is not unusual to see students take advantage of the break to compete in sports. Anthony Jiang, a Cathedral Catholic High School junior who is ranked top 20 nationally in the Cadet Men’s Saber group, will be traveling to Bulgaria for the Cadet Saber World Championships. While he will not spend the holiday with his family in San Diego, he will cherish the time spent with his fencing family – coaches and teammates.
“Especially in high school, we become too focused on getting into college and maintaining grades. And then we forget about the importance of being together. So, Thanksgiving reminds me to spend time with people you enjoy,” Jiang said.
No matter the unique ways people in San Diego celebrate their Thanksgiving, the holiday season comes with family and friends, nearing the end of the year, to reflect on what they are most thankful for and enjoy the moments spent together.