South Bay Families Welcome Return of In-Home Thanksgiving Gatherings

SAN JOSE (KPIX) — Families across the country are grateful to be able to gather in person on Thanksgiving for the first time since the pandemic began. Count among those thankful Marlene Swendsen who has ten children and 20 grandchildren.

“This is the focus of my life, my husband and I, 47 years,” Swendsen said. “Look at all we’ve created — a tremendous amount to be thankful for.”

Last year, this large family spent Thanksgiving apart for the first time in more than four decades.

“I’m thankful for being able to get together with family again. We missed it last year and this is a wonderful opportunity,” said Swendsen’s son Mark Swendsen.

He said that the entire family is vaccinated and felt safe gathering under one roof again at his brother’s home in San Jose.

A few minutes away at the Snyder home, family members gathered in the garage with the door up as they watched football. The turkey had just been taken out of the oven.

“We’re just so happy that things are almost back to normal,” said Nate Snyder.

He said that, last year, he, his wife and their two children spent Thanksgiving away from their family as COVID spread worldwide.

At this time last year, Santa Clara County had just entered the state’s most restrictive COVID tier after cases, hospitalizations and deaths soared.

There were capacity limits at businesses, “no travel” recommendations and county health leaders were telling people it was not a good idea to gather with others outside your household.

This year, the country is a month away from the one-year anniversary when COVID vaccines began going into the arms of Americans. More recently, boosters are widely available.

COVID cases may not be the lowest they’ve ever been but they’re nowhere near what they were last year. Just before Thanksgiving 2020, the county reported more than 500 new cases, three times what they are in the county today.

“I’m glad that we can finally have a real Thanksgiving,” said 9-year-old Josie Snyder.

She said that she is grateful for “my friends and my family, because I didn’t get to see my friends a lot because of COVID.”

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