As Thanksgiving falls in late November, many college students are faced with a quandary: should they go home and celebrate the holiday with their families or should they stay and knuckle down for those last (usually large) projects and papers and prepare for final exams?
It’s a hard call. By the end of any semester, students need a break, and a lower key family holiday definitely counts, but by then every second counts in getting the work done, and no one is going to barricade the door to her room and study after the Thanksgiving plates are cleared. Of course, for out-of-state students at Grand Valley it’s even harder, and potentially prohibitively expensive to go home. So what are the options for celebrating Thanksgiving for students who stay on campus?
Out-of-state students will frequently be invited by roommates or friends to join in a family holiday. While this may not be as familiar and comfortable as being with their own families, it’s always interesting to see how other people celebrate: what they eat, what their family dynamics are like, and how they view the origins of this old American holiday. Students won’t receive any credit, but this could be an education in itself.
Contact a relative who lives close by. Few American families live geographically close to all of their relatives, so it’s very possible that an aunt, uncle or cousin might live nearby and welcome more family at the holiday table.
Celebrate with other students on campus. Cooking a full Thanksgiving meal is a challenge for many young people, but it’s very possible to be thankful for a chicken roast and fried potatoes instead of a full turkey dinner. A potluck Thanksgiving is another option. It’s much easier to bring one traditional item to a dinner party than to cook a whole meal. Seriously, a green bean casserole is super easy to make, and pumpkin pies are cheap at Meijer. Going to a restaurant with friends is another option if the kitchen is too intimidating.
Soup kitchens and homeless shelters frequently host Thanksgiving dinners as well. It’s harder to feel bad about not being able to go home for Thanksgiving when surrounded by people whose struggle is much more difficult. Mel Trotter Mission is, in fact, looking for volunteers to help serve the homeless.
Whatever option you choose, take a minute to remember how fortunate modern Americans are to have decent shelter, warmth, a variety of foods to choose to eat, and safe communities in which to live. That’s significantly more than many of our forefathers could count on going into the winter season, and gratitude is an appropriate response.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Meadows Crossing!