Food, family are students’ Thanksgiving favorites – University of Miami

As COVID-19 surges from coast to coast, University of Miami students share their favorite traditions as they head for winter break and the holiday.


Welcome to the 2020 holiday season, where smaller turkeys are in higher demand because many people are planning more intimate family gatherings because of the pandemic. Some students are opting out of going home in an effort to keep their families safe, as this Thanksgiving will be a little bit different than years past as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across the country. 

This year, the University of Miami holiday recess officially begins on Nov. 25 and ends Nov. 29, leading into finals week—which will be conducted remotely this year. 

While food will remain the star of the show this Thanksgiving, masks and hand sanitizer are also a sure crowd favorite. Here, a few ’Canes share what they’re most looking forward to this Thanksgiving.

Jack Delli-Santi, sophomore marine science and biology major, Austin, Texas

“My Thanksgiving traditions mostly consist of spending time with family and always watching ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.’ My favorite dish that I’m looking forward to is probably stuffing. I didn’t used to like it as a kid, but I guess now I just crave carbohydrates all the time. My dad really likes to take part in a lantern tradition where we go into a secluded area and light these really cool lanterns and watch as they disappear out of sight. It’s really a nice tradition. I’ll probably just hang with my sister a lot. She just turned 17 and I’ve grown to appreciate how close we’ve become.”


Hemish Phillip, first-year health science major, Saint Lucia

“We’re really big on family and spending time together. The social aspects of this Thanksgiving are going to be different. There won’t be as many large gatherings for us this year, but more intimate gatherings instead. I’m most looking forward to eating macaroni and cheese.”


Cherry Chen, first-year music performance major, Northern Virginia

“I’m just excited to be able to see my family again after a couple of months—especially since this semester was kind of weird in a way. This is the first time that I’ve been out on my own. One of the things that we normally do is have a huge potluck, where all the families meet at one person’s house. But I don’t think that’s happening this year. So, my immediate family will be enjoying our own hot pot this year. It’s a traditional dish where you put a burner in the center of the table and place a huge pot of soup base and you boil all kinds of vegetables and meat. It’s delicious!”


Courtney Peterson, sophomore psychology major, Texas

“I’m actually not going home. I’m going to a family’s house in Naples, Florida. I’m most looking forward to seeing my extended family that I don’t usually see. We usually have a pretty big gathering. This year it’s only their four family members and me so that I don’t have to travel home. I usually do the cooking for my family. I kind of took it over when I was like 12. I love making the mashed potatoes because I make them kind of fancy.”


Mikhail Marasigan, senior chemistry and microbiology major, the Philippines

“One of the things I really enjoy is cooking together with my family. My favorite part has to also be going to church with my family. Our Thanksgiving celebrations have always been a very intimate, personal thing. So, I don’t think it’ll necessarily change this year. I’m happy we still get to have that.”


Gabrielle Crawford, second-year law student, Mobile, Alabama

“We usually have some Creole food like jambalaya or gumbo—not truly traditional Thanksgiving food. I don’t have time to go home this year.  I have to stay here and get my outlines for exams and stuff straightened out. It’s not due to any COVID precautions. Seeing my cousins that have moved away and everybody come back home is usually my favorite part about Thanksgiving.”


Rodrigo Arauz, second-year graduate student studying motion pictures, Miami

“My parents and I usually go to my grandparents’ house and have dinner every year. We’re not big fans of turkey, so we usually go for a big ham. We keep safe and test ourselves pretty regularly, so I don’t foresee it being a problem this year. My grandma’s a really good cook. I’m looking forward to kind of that post-dinner—just that feeling of ‘fat’—and chilling after. The great meal is my favorite part of the day.”