Editor’s Note: Keeping traditions alive

The+Etched+in+Stone+staff+of+2019%2C+gathered+for+a+Thanksgiving+family+photo.+This+year%27s+Thanksgiving+celebration+looked+quite+different.

Moriah DeGear

The Etched in Stone staff of 2019, gathered for a Thanksgiving family photo. This year’s Thanksgiving celebration looked quite different.

Anna Henning, Editor in Chief

Every family has traditions, and my journalism family is no different. We have so many different occasions that we look forward to throughout the year. They are passed down to new staffers, and they pass them down as well. This is what makes being a part of this staff so special, we have so much history and tradition.

As we moved back into remote learning, my fellow Co-Editor in Chief, Madalynn Lewis, and I mourned the loss of yet another tradition—our Thanksgiving celebration. Every year, we had a miniature Thanksgiving meal as a class on the last day before Fall Break. And, proudly, we would always go all-out. We would not have a party with a few snacky foods—no—we would have a feast. 

Our advisor, Ben DeGear, would always supply the class with a turkey or chicken, depending on what he could find in the store. The remainder of the class would sign up to bring the rest of the meal. We would have mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, and always a crazy assortment of pies and cookies. 

I have so many fond memories of our Etched in Stone Thanksgiving. Most years, we have at least one person who has never celebrated the holiday before, and it is always fun to see their faces light up throughout the party, followed by the inevitable food coma. 

I still have a beautiful memory of my freshman year. A senior, who I quickly became friends with at the beginning of the year, was napping with her head in my lap, while I watched staffers doing Just Dance on the SmartBoard. Everywhere, there were friends laughing and talking, and just being present. My sophomore year, I remember eating half an apple pie with Karen Manley, who was my “adopted mother.” My junior year, I remember the room being full of people, as we had so many alumni come back to join us.

Every year this party has been such a beautiful time to bring the staff closer together, but this year we could not even be together as a staff. Even through the pandemic, my leadership team and I have been determined to make this year as normal as possible. We still talk about the news daily, play games weekly, and run the class the same. And so, like everything else my senior year, we have improvised and the celebration commenced. Of course, we could not have the same copious amounts of food for each person, but we encouraged staffers to bring a treat to enjoy during our party. 

We were also excited to be joined by two Etched in Stone alumni who graduated in 2019. Typically, our friends would be home from college during the week of Thanksgiving, making it the perfect opportunity for a reunion. I am thankful that we found ways to continue to include them, despite the change of venue. Unfortunately a lot of our graduates could not make it, but we were so excited to have two nonetheless. 

During many different occasions during the year, one of my favorite activities the staff has done together was write each other notes. In the past, the marker holder below our storyboard has been lined with decorated envelopes, each for a different person. We would write each other small notes, expressing gratitude, appreciation, or our pride in each other. It has always been a great way to let someone know what they mean to you, who you may not always get a chance to be around. 

Thanksgiving notes, COVID-19 edition, featured a shared folder in Google Drive with a document dedicated to each person. By the end of our writing time, each person had their own set of virtual notes. No, it was not as satisfying as using my array of colored pens, but it was still so fun to give a little encouragement to my staff.

Unfortunately we could not show off our Just Dance skills this year, as sharing videos on a call is often delayed and choppy. I hope that at a future Etched in Stone celebration we can bust out our moves once more. Instead, we played a game called “Quiplash” made by Jackbox Games. We had to create unique responses to silly prompts, and I am especially proud of my upcoming scientific element I named, “DeGearium.”

Of course, it cannot be a pandemic party without some technology hiccups. Halfway through our class time, Zoom kicked everyone out and I had to create a new meeting. It was frustrating having to take so much time to work around making things load, and worrying about people’s internet. Technology did not always go as planned, but we did our best. We made it work, and we still had a good time.

My favorite tradition of our Thanksgiving party is the most simple. We all go around the room, and everyone says what they are thankful for. I love how every year people really get into it, and it becomes very emotional. Especially in such a difficult time, I think it is especially important to practice gratitude. Personally, I feel so thankful to still be able to have access to education, and a house to quarantine in. 

And to my wonderful staff, I am so thankful for you. Through every obstacle, you have continued to bring enthusiasm to the paper and to our journalism family. I have appreciated how you have made our class a safe space for everyone, and I miss seeing (half) of your faces at school. 

Although I am bummed that this is how my senior year Thanksgiving went, I know it will not be my last with Etched in Stone. I know that after I graduate, I am always welcome to come back. I hold onto the hope that in the future, I can feast with my family once again.