Let’s Give Thanks for Thanksgiving: The Meaning of Turkey Day

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By David Fejeran –

Thanksgiving: your grandpa’s once-a-year opportunity to go on insensitive and quite frankly racist rants. To many, Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family over a warm, home cooked meal and to give thanks for the many blessings, opportunities, and beautiful people we have in our lives. Thanksgiving means something different for everyone, and it seems every family in America has certain traditions they follow this time of year. My family is by no means an exception. However, for the first time in my life, this year I will not be spending Thanksgiving with my family. Thanksgiving to me has always been my mother cooking enough food to feed the sovereign state of Norway, playing the piano with tides of aromas flowing from the kitchen, and sharing jokes and stories with loved ones. This year, Thanksgiving will have to take on a new meaning for me.

I know that I’m not the first college student–let alone RMC student–to spend Thanksgiving away from family. Though Thanksgiving is a particularly North American holiday, our friends across the pond have at least heard of it. I decided to start my quest to find the true meaning of Thanksgiving by asking an international student what she thinks is the most glaringly obvious aspect of Thanksgiving. Hope Bradlie is a Junior International Student from Northern Ireland. When asked what she as a European thinks Thanksgiving is about, she says that “the first thing that comes to mind… is food because that’s all anyone seems to talk about. As I’m not a very religious person, it seems similar to how I spend Christmas. To me, Christmas is all about family and good food.” Out of a desire to avoid a teary eye, I decided to ignore the comment on family. That leaves food. Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without the food.

So I did some research. The first result was a video of hamsters eating food that looked like human food, but was actually hamster-sized. After spiraling into a two-hour-long train of cute animal videos on YouTube I remembered that Thanksgiving was about eating animals, not watching them eat. So I looked up Turkey recipes, and I found some that looked pretty good. Sweet brines with cranberries and orange slices, savory brines with rosemary and cloves. I decided that I would have to replicate the best of these recipes in the dorm. There’s only one thing, though; you can’t cook a full size turkey in a microwave. I found tons of drool-worthy recipes on the Google, but if I was going to cook them all, I would need my mom’s kitchen back home.

This was heading in a direction I didn’t want to head down. I was reminded of how much I love my family and how much we miss each other, and that was making me sad. I needed to keep searching for the true meaning of Thanksgiving. I decided to be a lazy journalist and ask a friend what she thinks of Thanksgiving. This friend, Annastacia Anderson, is staying on campus for Thanksgiving like me. To Annastacia, “Thanksgiving means food, family, and being thankful. I’d say I’ve had more reason to be thankful especially for good friends since I’ve been to college.” Food, family, and being thankful. Still, she is more thankful after going to college because of friends. Even in the absence of her blood relatives, Annastacia finds way to be thankful for what she has in her life at college.

And then it hit me. Thanksgiving isn’t about specific food at a specific house, it’s about the people that you share food with. Most years, this food is shared with my mom, dad, sister, brother, and extended family. However, this year, I’ll share it with friends. That’s not to say that I won’t be thankful for the circumstances of my situation. Like Hope, I’m sure I’ll enjoy the food I eat, and like Annastacia, I’ll be thankful for the people I get to share the food with. I guess you can say I won’t be spending Thanksgiving apart from family after all.

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