Alternative ways to celebrate Thanksgiving away from family

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While Thanksgiving is usually an occasion for family gathering, not everyone has the opportunity to go home for the holidays.

Some students are stuck on campus for Thanksgiving break or are scheduled to work and must stay for their job. But because the Thanksgiving holiday is so integrated into American culture, it is still important for most to celebrate.

Dixie State University dining services offer meal vouchers for students to purchase with their meal plan funds over the break because dining services will be closed Nov. 22-26.The Trailblazer Café and Stacks will both close at 3 p.m. and Infusion will close at 5 p.m. on Nov. 21. The Market at Dixie will remain open a little longer until Nov. 22 at 5 p.m.

 “I would recommend coming over and buying our vouchers… if they want a true Thanksgiving dinner,” said Martin Peterson, director of dining services.

Dining services has been offering meal vouchers for eight to nine years, Peterson said. This year, they have partnered with Wendy’s, Denny’s and Golden Corral. Vouchers are available for purchase at the dining services office beginning Monday until close, at noon on Wednesday.

“These are the closest restaurants to the campus,” said Bonnie Jensen, dining services office manager. “That’s why we chose these restaurants too, [because of] the proximity.”

Jensen said less than 50 to 60 meal vouchers are purchased each year.

Denny’s and Golden Corral offer full Thanksgiving meals. But for students who don’t want to use their meal plan money, or who don’t have meal plans, Peterson suggests students purchase turkey breast, instant potatoes, gravy and some vegetables for a dorm room Thanksgiving feast.

Friendsgiving has become a popular tradition among college students, where friends gather to share a Thanksgiving feast. It usually happens in addition to, or in place of Thanksgiving at home with family. According to Merriam-Webster, the term Friendsgiving has been used in print as early as 2007. It became popular through TV shows and ad campaigns as time went on.

Annie Odette, a junior media studies major from St. George, said she celebrates Friendsgiving as an opportunity to gather with friends in addition to traditional Thanksgiving dinner with family. She enjoys the opportunity to celebrate with both groups in different settings. For Odette, Friendsgiving is much more relaxed.

“The holiday season is easy to get caught up in,” Odette said. “So I think it is important to set aside time to be with the people you love the most, aside from your family.”

Odette and her friends normally have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, each bringing their own dishes to share, but this year, they’re doing pizza and tacos to switch it up a bit.

“Last year, I made the stuffing and mashed potatoes,” she said. “I made them the same way my family made them growing up. This year I’m bringing pizza.”

Whether you celebrate with friends or family, Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated, it’s just about gathering with loved ones to be grateful.

“I think that in our day to day lives, we often times forget how much we have to be thankful for,” Odette said. “I love being able to have a whole day and season set aside to celebrate all of the blessings that I have in my life.”