A celebration of diversity


North Hollywood High School students and faculty come from such diverse backgrounds and cultures– how do these reflect in their celebration of Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is nationally recognized as an important American holiday, but its controversial history is often overlooked. Skye Salce-Weaver, a senior, provides some perspective: “Most of the time, Thanksgiving isn’t a celebration within my family. Being Native American, Ma and I don’t think it’s proper to celebrate a holiday where our people’s generosity and charity were taken advantage of.”

Although Salce acknowledges this unfortunate past, his family decides to create new traditions to shed a positive light on a bleak day. “We often have dinner with other people of color, which leads to amazing cultural meals,” he explains. “Also, one of my favorite traditions, which I started recently, is to ask my mom to braid my hair in two braids, in honor of my Native heritage. This is a very common Native American hairstyle, and it’s almost a form of retaliation in my mind. I want people to know of my dislike for the idea of this holiday and all of the injustices it tries to cover up with gravy and cranberry sauce.” By appreciating his culture in this way, Salce can enjoy the holiday from his individual perspective.

Other students, like sophomore Brenden Simson, take a more traditional approach and use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to spend time with and appreciate family. Simson illustrates,  “Every year, I go to my aunt’s house with my family and our friends. We always watch football, eat, tell stories, and catch up.” Family values have become a core part of Thanksgiving for many people. Brenden Simson adds, “My favorite is dark meat turkey, especially with green beans, salad, and a roll.”

Jordan Sales, a junior, also has family-oriented traditions. “Thanksgiving is really special to me because I get to see my big brother, who is away at college most of the time, and it’s also one of the only days out of the year when I see my step-siblings,” Sales elaborates.

Besides family, another notable aspect of Thanksgiving is–of course–the food. “As a Black family with Southern roots, we prepare soul food, including many Thanksgiving classics like cornbread, collared greens, pie, etc. My personal favorite is always yams; my sweet tooth loves sweet potatoes, especially with the added brown sugar and sometimes marshmallows,” Sales comments. 

Although the classic aspects of Thanksgiving dinner are appreciated by many, some people’s celebrations are not as traditional. Math teacher Mr. Gamboa usually attends two Thanksgiving dinners. “We do one day where we go get Chinese takeout with my mother-in-law’s aunt, who is a director for mainly Chinese movies,” Mr. Gamboa explains. “Another day in the week, we just have a big dinner with our whole family.”

No matter what one does to celebrate Thanksgiving, each experience is uniquely special. However, the main theme throughout them all, no matter how different they are, is to be grateful for what/who you love. “I am thankful to be in a much better place now, mentally,” Mr. Gamboa says. 

When asked what they are thankful for, most people have a similar response. Summed up by Skye Salce-Weaver: “I have to go with the same answer everyone has: my family and friends. I am thankful for them every single day.”