FHC sees Thanksgiving as a perfect time to share their gratitude with the ones they love


Paula Spagnuolo

Lisa Penninga and her family posing together for a group photo.

As the Thanksgiving holiday creeps closer and closer, many people are making their dinner plans and figuring out which family member is bringing what dish.

For my family in particular, we are currently creating a list of items to bring with us to Ohio, where we will be celebrating the holiday with my aunt. Due to a lot of convincing in the tupperware aisle in D&W, I got my dad to make his cheesy potatoes, a delicacy in the Hargis-Acevedo family.

However, with the chaos and commotion that follows with planning a feast, many people overlook the real reason as to why Thanksgiving is celebrated. We come together as friends and family to share with one another what we are thankful for. While many people, as expected, are thankful for their families, it is how they show their gratitude that is unique from one person to the next.

Lisa Penninga: the health of her family, her fabulous coworkers, and the fact that she is able to be teaching in-person once again.

After AP Lang and AP Lit teacher Lisa Penninga’s youngest son was born with heart defects, it made her realize that she took her health for granted.

In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard, Penninga had to alter her normal teaching routine to accommodate the well-being of her child, hence teaching students remotely. Nevertheless, she is ecstatic to be back in her own classroom, this year, in much safer conditions.

“[My son’s heart defect has] really changed my outlook that every day is such a gift,” Penninga said. ”We really try to make the most of every day together as a family, and I think because of that, my boys and my husband and I, we just really appreciate our time together. It’s not looked at as something that is just something we have to do, but something that we cherish and that we love to do.”

To ensure that Penninga and her family remain safe this Thanksgiving, they will be celebrating the holiday with only the five of them. She and her husband have made this decision strictly for maintaining the health of her son.

Nevertheless, Penninga does not see the small turnout for this year’s Thanksgiving feast as something negative. She and her husband view it as a perfect way to bring their household closer together. 

“My husband and I are kind of looking at [this Thanksgiving] as an opportunity,” Penninga said, “of how we can really make our core ‘two-plus-three-equals-five’ group and really start new traditions that are something that we want to do, not the obligations of our past.”

With every endeavor that she has pushed through leading her to this moment, Penninga believes that she has become a better human being.

“All the hardships that we’ve gone through I think made me more grateful and thankful,” Penninga said. “I also think I overlooked some of the little things that people get really frustrated with in life that I don’t. I think I see students more as people now than I ever did before and realize that a late assignment is not as big of a deal as how they’re doing, and what they need, [and] if they’re thriving, surviving, or drowning in my class.”

Keegan Redmond: his family and friends.

With his cousin away at college, freshman Keegan Redmond is impatiently awaiting Thanksgiving so that he can see her again.

Because of the pandemic last year, Keegan was not able to see his family members for the holidays. With things beginning to get better this year, Keegan will finally be able to reunite with his family, and he couldn’t be more excited to see them and to also indulge in some delicious food.

I think I see students more as people now than I ever did before, and realize that a late assignment is not as big of a deal as how they’re doing, and what they need, [and] if they’re thriving, surviving, or drowning in my class.

— Lisa Penninga

“Last year, I couldn’t see my family.” Keegan said. “So, this year, I get to see them, which is cool and different from last year.”

Keegan finds it pertinent to show his thankfulness to his family and friends, and he does so by always trying to be positive towards them to brighten their day.

He is extremely thankful for the opportunities that have been given to him due to his friends and family, but what prevails over everything else is how they have taught him how to be a better person. 

“I think the people around me that I’m thankful for have made me a better person and make better decisions,” Keegan said, “and if I don’t make better decisions, then they support me.”

Carlos Silvestre: good health, his family, and the hospitable work environment, courtesy of his coworkers and students. 

Spanish teacher Carlos Silvestre always strives to express his gratitude towards his family, coworkers, and students as often as possible.

Especially with the current events that have occurred in the past two years, Silvestre has gained greater respect for everything. 

“I like to show my thankfulness on a regular basis with my attitude and how I approach life in general,” Silvestre said.”I think we should be thankful everyday, not just one specific day of the year.”

In the chaotic world that we live in, it can be easy for people to lose sight of what is truly important. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect back upon the year with the ones you love and express your gratitude with one another.

For Silvestre, he is looking forward to spending the day with his family, which includes attending his church in the morning for a service of Thanksgiving and a feast in the evening. 

“[My family is] my driving force,” Silvestre said. “[I’m thankful for] my wife, my children, [and] I’m thankful for my job. [It] is like that piece of the puzzle that brings sanity to this insane world we live in. My students also help me keep it real and simple.”