Quick and Easy Valentine’s Treats

682f8026f781f34b4fca84140cb6e1cfBy Collier Curran

With the winter holidays finished–and the cold here to stay–one’s mind tends to wander, searching for, quite frankly, something to be excited about. Spring break feels like ages away, so Valentine’s Day, conveniently located in the middle of February, tends to assuage the winter blues of even the most cynical students. I personally always look forward to Valentine’s Day (despite having spent the entirety of my life so far single) because it is a day to celebrate love in all of its forms. I think of my friends, both from my hometown and from the colleges I have attended, as well as my family members and pets. I even think of the foods, the places, and the experiences I have come to love. To me, Valentine’s Day closely resembles Thanksgiving, except the food of choice is chocolate and wearing pink and red together momentarily becomes okay.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I have compiled a list of quick and easy recipes perfect for a night in with a significant other, great friends, or just you and Netflix (I don’t judge!).

  1. Chocolate Heart Peanut Butter Cookiesfe8a0d72-e1e1-4a2b-a65e-41cab1a62987.jpg

It is a confirmed fact that any candy in the shape of a heart tastes infinitely better than its run of the mill counterpart. In addition to binge-watching fuel, these candies can function perfectly as toppers for a basic cookie (or cupcake) recipe. Simply whip up a recipe of your choice, such as peanut butter cookies, and press a heart-shaped candy like Hershey’s hearts or Nestle Crunch hearts into the center of each cookie when they come out of the oven. For cupcakes, these hearts are adorable placed on top of the frosting. For my absolute favorite (Easy! Gluten free! Dairy free!) peanut butter cookie recipe, check out “Dairy Free Peanut Butter Cookies” from the blog Tastes Lovely. This specific recipe also makes a pretty small batch so it’s great if you’re not having too many guests.

  1. Chocolate-Covered Strawberries1371589312322

Chocolate strawberries are such a classic, but so many people forget about them when it comes to Valentine’s parties. Don’t worry about being too “extra” by showing up with a plate of these; not only will no one be able to mock you through mouths full of chocolate and fruit, but you can feel comfortable knowing that they are so quick and easy. Simply microwave semi-sweet chocolate (I suggest a block of chocolate over chips because chips don’t melt as smoothly) in increments of 15 seconds, stirring each time, until completely melted. Then, dip in your strawberries, place them on parchment paper to set and it’s that easy! To make these even more festive, you can drizzle white chocolate (possibly dyed pink or red) on top by cutting a small hole in the corner of a ziploc bag and filling it with melted chocolate like a tiny piping bag (I recently tried this method and it was SO EASY. Check out the photo of the strawberries I made in my own kitchen!). Valentine’s sprinkles are also always a good idea.

  1. Sweetheart Cinnamon Rollsfc1a5c01-9867-4cef-921c-4162b7fc3344

This recipe is the definition of simple. All it requires is a ready-made package of cinnamon rolls and a little patience and you can have an adorable–and tasty, of course–heart-shaped breakfast. Simply take out each cinnamon roll and uncoil it, leaving the middle bit still coiled. Then, form a heart shape by coiling the other end to be equal in size. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry! The blog Lady Behind the Curtain provides very specific instructions on this method as well as pictures guiding you every step of the way. Once the cinnamon rolls are all shaped, bake them according to package directions, cover in icing (dyed pink, perhaps?) and serve. I would also suggest throwing some sprinkles on these, because what says “I love you” more than red and pink clumps of sugar?

  1. Valentine’s Popcornperfectly-pink-valentines-day-popcorn-14

I think I can honestly say that this Valentine’s popcorn is one of the most festive things I’ve ever seen. With a combination of sprinkles, drizzled white chocolate, and pink and red M&Ms, this recipe is bound to make anyone believe in love again (or at the very least, want to sneak a handful or two out the door with them after the party). I am one of those people who always had to get both popcorn and Buncha Crunch at the movies growing up so I could get both sweet and salty in every bite. This popcorn channels that same flavor palette, utilizing melted white chocolate (or pink candy melts) to combat the saltiness of the buttery popcorn while also providing great sweetness. Additionally, M&Ms and cute sprinkles make the snack fun to eat and festive. One of the beauties of this concept is that you could throw in any Valentine’s candy you have lying around and the result will always be delicious.

No matter how you’re spending your V-Day (I must admit, I have a hot date with Ernest Hemingway set up by my American Literature professor), these recipes are bound to spice it up. I hope your Valentine’s Day is filled with love for all of the important people, places, and things in your life, and I will see you with my next article!

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Guy Love, That’s All It Is

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By Sinead Hunt

To most of my peers, Scrubs represents an entirely forgettable, one-dimensional sitcom from the early 2000s. But given that it was the first sitcom I had ever laid my eyes upon, it’s no wonder that my pubescent self found the show invariably hilarious and the characters unwaveringly winning—after all, I had nothing to compare it to. Recently, for reasons relating entirely to indolence, I decided to go back and watch Scrubs in its entirety to see if it still holds up.

Interestingly enough, Scrubs is frequently praised by real-life doctors for its depictions of work and life in a hospital setting. Bill Lawrence, in an attempt to ground the show in reality, would send his writers out each week to interview practicing physicians. In fact, many of the scenes in the show are inspired by the lived experiences of doctors and other healthcare professionals.

For instance, there is a scene in the pilot in which JD attempts to perform a paracentesis on his patient. The procedure goes horribly awry when JD is unable to stop the excess fluid from spurting from the oblivious patient’s distended belly. The physical comedy of this scene is heightened by the knowledge that it was inspired by the real-life experiences of Dr. Paul Pirralgia. Dr. Pirralgia attended Brown Medical School with creator Bill Lawrence’s best friend, Dr. Johnathan Doris (As a brief side note, Dr. Johnathan Doris served as medical advisor to the show, and accordingly Zack Braff, his nickname on set was “The Real JD”). If you manage to look past the cartoonish dream sequences, you will find a depiction of medical residency that is notably prosaic. While other shows may capture the heroism of doctors saving lives amidst an unrelenting onslaught of tragedy and calamity (cough Grey’s Anatomy), Scrubs finds levity in the day-to-day lives of doctors and nurses.

Given that Scrubs was inspired by the real-life friendship between Bill Lawrence and Dr. Johnathan, it is no wonder that Turk and JD’s friendship is so emotionally resonant. Part of what was revolutionary about Scrubs was its unabashed celebration of male friendship and camaraderie. Anyone who has watched the show can tell that J.D’s transient romantic relationships take a back seat to the preeminence of his friendship with Turk. In fact, one might argue that male friendship is the focal point of the show.

Turk and JD’s friendship is so central to the premise of the show that it is frequently used to measure the passage of time. The physicality of their friendship is particularly noteworthy. Turk and JD are never afraid to express their platonic affection for one another through physical touch, whether it be a pat on the shoulder or a comforting hug. This is particularly laudable for a time in which men refrained from any physical expression of affection, lest they be branded as “gay.” In a decade where the public understood masculinity through a heteronormative matrix, Scrub’s depiction of affectionate and emotionally nuanced male friendship belied many preconceived notions about the very definition of manhood.

However, as I continued to watch, I realized that running throughout the show is an insidious undercurrent of homophobic hyper-masculinity. JD is emotionally expressive, and as a result, is often pejoratively called girls’ names. Turk, however, embodies the ideal of “hyper masculine stoicism,” repressing his emotions and coping with stress through expressions of physical violence and domination, particularly in the arena of sports. Moreover, JD and Turk are frequently subject to intense speculation about the nature of their friendship, implying that two men cannot be friends without having their heterosexuality called into question. As much as Scrubs is revolutionary in its portrayal of male friendship, it also reinforces harmful and prohibitive gender stereotypes.

Senior Anxiety: An Interview

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By Ruby Samuels

A few weeks ago, I wrote a short article about senior anxiety and how to deal with it. It’s a big world out there, outside this all-inclusive, vitamin bubble called college, and I want the seniors reading this to know that they are not alone in their terror.

So, I found two anonymous seniors at Columbia University, both women in long term relationships, to give The Barnard Voice their perspective on the impending roller coaster that is adulthood.

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What are you most worried about in terms of leaving college and entering the “real world”?

A: I’m definitely most worried about housing. I’m used to supporting myself with my job for the most part, but haven’t had to pay rent which is a major change. I can’t imagine an additional $1000 bill each month with the job I have and I need three years experience to get a better one. Not to mention, just the logistics of finding a place in my budget, that is hopefully within an hour of my workplace by train, is a challenge. There’s also just a lot of unfamiliar territory there like wtf is a broker’s fee? That sort of thing.

B: In the “real world” there is no structure–no one guiding you or looking out for you along the way. I’m scared about losing control over my career because there are no “due dates” anymore.

What sort of conversations with your partner or inner monologues with yourself have you had about how graduating and trying to find a job will impact your relationship?

A: We’ve talked about how post-grad life will affect our relationship a lot actually. The main thing we are negotiating now is a difference in graduation dates. I’m graduating early, and she’s graduating late creating this weird space where she is tied to NYC, and I can’t afford to live in NYC without living with her mom (which I really don’t want to do). As it is, she lives in Queens, and I’m ridiculously busy with school and work, so we’ve figured out how to make things work when things get hectic on the emotional front. Right now we are more concerned with the practical logistics. We’ve talked about temporarily moving back to my hometown to save money and take care of my sisters, but the weird year/year and a half before she graduates will most likely be the hardest part. Does she meet me in MI? Do I work/live here until she can come with me? I’m confident we’ll figure it out when the time comes.

B: My partner and I have talked about the possibility of breaking up post-graduation due to physical distance and practicality. It is something we are still trying to work through and figure out, and obviously things may change as we figure out what jobs we will get/where we will be.

If you have any sort of self-doubt about your ability to find a job and be otherwise “successful” after college, what does that doubt look and feel like?

you-is-tired-you-is-broke-you-is-adulting-14526940A:  Boy oh boy yeah, there’s a lot of self-doubt, honestly. Imposter syndrome is so real. At the same time, I do generally feel competent to perform a lot of jobs, but constantly not meeting the minimum qualifications is very frustrating. I remember job hunting last year and being so discouraged because here I am getting this great education, feeling pretty on my shit, but I couldn’t even get interviews in food service or retail. These days, it’s manifested in very methodical planning and taking an “everything will work out in the end” attitude. I’m not particularly positive what the space between where I am and where I want to be will or should look like, but I’m hoping if I just follow some formula the pieces will fall into place. It’s this weird combination of “I have control of my own destiny” and “no point stressing about what I can’t control” that doesn’t leave much room for self-doubt. That not stressing part is definitely the harder part.

B: My concern is about getting into medical school after college. While part of me is happy about graduating from a school like Columbia, another part of me is scared that I was not provided the proper social experiences at the school that are necessary for becoming a doctor, this is likely due to the high academic stress level and the competitive nature that is inherent in many STEM classes here.

How does being at an Ivy League school influence your senior stress level?

A: Huh. I think the fact that I’m in between class years has helped me a lot, because my friends aren’t set in their post-grad plans yet, so there is less for me to compare myself to. That being said, being surrounded with thousands of excruciatingly competent and intelligent people does bring on some very capitalistic anxiety, like, “oh shit, this is my competition”. When I look at everyone else and then back at my painfully bare resume, with no internships or many extracurriculars, I panic a little bit. The atmosphere of constantly trying to make comparison without knowing their full context just breeds stressed and *nudge nudge * alienation.

B: There are definitely higher expectations because I will be graduating from an Ivy League, both from family and friends outside of Columbia and friends within Columbia. Everyone expects more of you, there is a higher standard of “success” at Columbia.

What do you think will be most important for you to be fulfilled and happy after graduation?

A: Honestly I think I’m going to be happy as long as I can make enough where I don’t have to pinch every penny, and I am able to support myself fully. I think moving back home, like in my parents’ house, would feel like a failure to me, even though I know it’s normal. I think being in the Midwest effects that a lot though. In NYC, I know tons of people who live with their parents both because of different cultures and the skyhigh rent. In Michigan, it’s more common to just move out as soon as possible, often right after high school. Rent is dirt cheap though, so it would be easy for me to rent an entire 2 bedroom apartment on my relatively low paying (by NYC standards) 15 hrs a week job.

Generally I don’t think it’ll take much to feel fulfilled. I just don’t want to be stuck barely getting by.

B: I would like a stable gap year job and hopefully during that year get into a good medical school 🙂

Have you burned all the bridges or do you feel confident in the network that you have for finding jobs?taken-linkedin-meme-duncan1

A: I think networking – or lack thereof – is one of my other major anxieties. I still don’t really get what that means? Can you just meet successful people, add them on LinkedIn, and get a job from them 5 years later? I’m banking on sheer force of will and my dazzling charisma to get jobs.

B: I think one of the things that Columbia is very good at providing is a good social network, and I hope that will come in handy in the near future.

What would you tell other seniors who are similarly stressed?

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A: It’s easier said than done, but basically just try not to dwell on the future too much. Yes, you need a plan, but once you have that plan, come back to the present and take it step by step, knowing the pieces will fall into place as you go. Get a credit card to build credit. Scope out which schools you wanna apply for, if that’s your thing, and write down important dates like when apps open and are due. Figure out how the fuck student loans work.

Also, you might not feel all that spectacular in comparison to your peers here, but I guarantee businesses will think you are. In my opinion, the most dangerous part of Columbia stress culture is the constant feeling that you aren’t doing enough. You are. I promise. Get some sleep please.

B: Everyone has their own definition of “success” so don’t worry if your view of it does not match up with the view of your friends or fellow peers. I am fully confident that we will all be successful in our own way, and just don’t give up on getting there!  

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A Requiem for the Gilmore Girls

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By Sinead Hunt

Though I can’t remember exactly when I first discovered Gilmore Girls, I can recall how immediately entranced I was by the world that Amy Sherman-Palladino had so lovingly and deliberately crafted. At the time, I was a first-semester freshman in college, struggling to make friends, assimilate to college life and keep my head above water academically. Upon arriving on campus, I found it difficult to reconcile my preconceived notions of what college would be like with the realities I encountered.

Before arriving, my perception of college was idealistic, verging on delusional. I viewed college as a utopian haven of learning, a place where I would have the freedom to explore my academic interests, befriend new and exciting people and finally, establish myself as an autonomous, well-adjusted adult.

What I failed to realize, however, is that there are two sides to every coin. As someone who grew up accustomed to moving around and spending long periods separated from my family members, I never anticipated how homesick I would feel upon arriving at school. As someone who thrived academically throughout high school, I never expected to struggle academically or fail to meet my professor’s expectations. I was shocked to discover how much of my incipient college experience would be characterized by social isolation and glaring feelings of inadequacy. Amid these swirling negative emotions, Gilmore Girls provided me with an invaluable sense of comfort and safety.

49bfa768-c0a5-4447-b98c-1ce2da4efcd7Watching the first season of Gilmore Girls felt akin to ensconcing oneself in a warm blanket and eating a bowl of Mac and Cheese. Although its critics have claimed that Gilmore Girls fails to captivate audiences because there are no high-stakes conflicts to drive the plot, I would retort that this feature is a strength rather than a shortcoming. While there is certainly a place on television for edge of your seat thrillers, there is also a demand for television made to soothe.

During a turbulent and confusing time in my life, I took comfort in knowing that I could tune in and immediately be transported to the magical world of Stars Hollow. The idyllic town serves as the perfect backdrop to Sherman-Palladino’s earnest and heartwarming story about multigenerational female relationships. Originally shot on the WB backlot to save on production costs, the diminutive size of the set has the added benefit of generating a sense of intimacy between the viewers and the world of Stars Hollow. Familiarly flawed characters and landmarks, such as the gazebo in the town square, Doosey’s Market, Luke’s Diner and Weston’s Bakery, make viewers feel like they are home.

In her role of a fast-talking, capable single mother, Lorelai Gilmore, Lauren Graham is simultaneously endearing and annoying. She demonstrates a fierce sense independence paste-tv-gallery-memes-gilmore-girls-cool-momand indomitable will, which allow her to single handedly raise her daughter, Rory. Through the seven seasons of the show, however, Lorelai also presents vexing contradictions. Although she purportedly left her parents’ house to escape their world of privilege and entitlement, as the self-declared “Queen of Stars Hollow,” Lorelai demonstrates an appalling lack of self-awareness. However, these flawed idiosyncrasies only emphasize the sense that Lorelai is not just a character, but a real person.

Moreover, Gilmore Girls has a novelistic quality to it that I have yet to see reproduced in other television series. Amy Sherman-Palladino has a unique capacity for world-building, in that she was able to breathe life and dimension into each and every character. Unlike other shows of its time, whose plots could invariably be neatly resolved by the close of an episode, Gilmore Girls is special because of its poignant, emotional sucker punch endings. Instead of coddling or patronizing her teenage girl demographic, she presents viewers with emotionally challenging scenes that are relevant for women in every stage of life.
This is why Gilmore Girls is stands the test of time. Whenever I speak to someone about Gilmore Girls, they express how they personally identified with one of the characters or its evocative depictions of female relationships. Regardless of its flaws (of which there are many, particularly in season 7), it is Gilmore Girls’ unique capacity to elicit honest emotional reactions that has secured its spot in the hearts of many, many fans.  

Post Commencement Stress Disorder

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By Ruby Samuels

For seniors like me, the end is near and so is the beginning.

The day that I graduated from elementary school, I remember feeling so accomplished, so much closer to being a writer or a full-time wild horse trainer or CIA agent or whatever else was on my mind at the time. I also remember, much more vividly, the crushing weight of realization that I would have to plod through 12 more years of schooling until that day of freedom, more years than I had been alive.

Now that day is quickly approaching, and it’s hard to know if I’m ready. I know that I am not alone. After all, there is now a diagnosis for the anxiety that comes with exiting the womb of academia into the vast wilderness of w2 forms and superintendents who won’t answer the phone when your pipes burst because you’re a woman. Psychologists are calling it PCSD (Post Commencement Stress Disorder) and whatever that new diagnosis says about the current economy, the current state of pop psychology or my “snowflake,” trigger-warned generation, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen PCSD living in the deadened, wine-scented faces of friends who graduated in the past few years. Here are the symptoms below:

Symptoms of PCSD

  • Feeling you are not in control of your life
  • Feeling a lack of support after commencement
  • Feelings of failure if the new graduate is unable to find work in their area of specialty in a reasonable length of time
  • Sleeplessness and irritability
  • Avoidance of normal, everyday activities

Here are some basic concerns that I want to let all of you seniors out there know you are not alone in feeling, plus some solutions to help all of us feel a little bit better.

I have no marketable skills                                                                                                  For those of us who majored in the humanities, what can we offer the world other than a semi-stimulating conversation about how EVERYTHING is a construct?liberal-arts-1uyq83x

Not to worry. As liberal arts students, we’re taught to think critically and creatively and to write down our thoughts in a compelling way.  We have also been taught to work really hard. These are marketable skills for almost every industry. Besides, most of what people learn about their field is learned on the job. What really matters is the $200,000 branded piece of paper that you walk away with, which your sociology professors taught you is a CONSTRUCT that you should take and use anyway because you “have to” to get most jobs.

I have burned all the bridges                                                                                                So you’ve had a few internships. You’ve fetched coffee and filled out excel spreadsheets and felt dead inside at the prospect of that being your life forever. So you didn’t really keep in touch. Or maybe you tried to keep in touch but didn’t get any response because adults have overflowing inboxes that are too important for over-anxious yet underwhelmed millennials.images

Here’s the good news. Not every job requires a reference– I know plenty of young people who have found jobs through friends or family and never needed that former boss’s good word. But it is a good idea to keep in touch with professionals in the field that you are actually interested in. The key is persistence. Working adults really do have overflowing inboxes and it may take a few emails, each a few months apart, to get their attention. Keep it short and sweet. Ask them to meet you for coffee, to pick their brain, to get their advice, because they have been in your shoes and it’s always good to have footsteps to follow.

My long term relationship will fall apart in the real world                                      This one is a killer. You’ve been in the steady, structured environment of a college for the entirety of your relationship. You’ve been the intellectual, the rock for your partner all this time and now you are facing a future in which you very well might transform into an unsexy, unemployed, self-loathing liberal arts grad.Stress-Everywhere

Perhaps both of you are seniors and will have to face versions of yourselves and each other that are existentially flailing and depressed. Or perhaps you find jobs on opposite sides of the country and can’t handle long distance intimacy.                                         

Stop right there. I may have these worries myself, but I have seen my partner through the post grad hell and dark depression that is student loan debt, misogynist and underpaid jobs and even unemployment. If anything, it has only made us stronger and is a never ending process of mutual support. If you and your partner can help each other realize that whatever happens in the immediate aftermath of graduation is not a measure of personal worth or potential, then your relationship will become invaluable to your ability to keep moving forward. And that is really all that you should be doing– moving forward, step by step.

I will become a corporate automaton                                                                                   I have been worried about this all my life. As silly as it sounds, my first ever, middle school paper was about Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond and transcendentalism’s wise decree to trade in the quiet desperation of material society for a cabin in the woods. I honestly don’t know what counts as corporate anymore because it seems as though most urban jobs involve being inside and in front of a computer for long periods of time. But being in an office most days doesn’t mean you’ll turn into an unfulfilled robot.today-fears-dreams-escape-life-cubicle-escape-lifes-cubicle-11021227

If you don’t mind being indoors all the time surrounded by paperwork at the bottom of a corporate ladder, good for you. But for the rest of us, there are ways to find some autonomy and even some opportunities to interact with a variety of people and places, and maybe even get outside, in your everyday work.

Think outside the box. Don’t think that just because you have this impressive degree, you have to go get a job in finance or at a top company in New York City. If you can afford it, move to a small town, walk dogs, bartend, nanny until you have a better idea of what kind of life you want to live and what career you want to spend your life with. Prove to yourself that you can survive without the help of your parents or an “elite” job, that you won’t starve just because you are unconventional. Don’t choose a career based on what your parents and striver friends tell you is a “good idea,” because you are your own person, and at the end of the day you need to know how to make yourself happy.

 

Giving Thanks: A Reflection on Thanksgiving for Three

 

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By Collier Curran

Even as my desk is piled high with papers and textbooks and my laptop has seventeen tabs open, my mind wanders to thoughts of mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and family. As the semester–and midterm season–trudges on, my excitement for Thanksgiving only builds; I open my eyes every morning and immediately grab for my phone to check the number of days left until the 23rd. In this age of only seeing family and hometown friends every few months, I can’t help but reflect on how my relationship to this holiday, and to my home, has changed.

Growing up, Thanksgiving was a somewhat typical day. Sure, my mom had spent most of the previous day cooking, but roasted chicken (we don’t like turkey), mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce were hardly a rarity in my house. I am incredibly lucky to have been born to a modern-day Julia Child; if I ever had a bad day, or a good day, or even an okay day, my mom was cooking. We almost always had a sit-down, home-cooked dinner as a family, but every few weeks we would enjoy a feast similar to that of Thanksgiving as a treat. While I was always grateful for the delicious food in front of me, I had somewhat grown used to it.

My Thanksgivings were also typical in terms of the company. I cannot remember a time where I ate Thanksgiving dinner with someone who didn’t live in my house (or next door, when my grandparents lived one block away). For one reason or another, my mom always cooked the Thanksgiving meal, and my very immediate family always enjoyed it. In this way, an artfully prepared meal with the members of my household just felt like another Thursday. Sure, the Macy’s Parade was on TV in the background, and my dad I ran in our town’s 1.4 mile Turkey Trot (I will admit that me running meant it was not a typical day), but once those festivities ceased, we engaged in typical family time.tumblr_lus03cg5181qav5oho1_500

After leaving for college, Thanksgiving took on a whole new meaning. My first year at school, I lived off of subpar meals from the dining hall, and now, I mix take-out with semi-homemade dinners that would even make Sandra Lee cringe. A meal homemade by my mom is something I miss every day, almost as much as the company.

I’m always saddened when I think about how little I appreciated the beauty of Thanksgiving when growing up. I was fortunate enough not only to share a bountiful meal in a welcoming home, but also to eat that meal with the strong and beautiful women in my life. Though the makeup of my household has changed slightly throughout the years, I have never had a shortage of inspiring family members, despite the small number. I currently live with my mother and my grandmother, both of whom challenge and motivate me every day. I know now that I will never again take for granted sharing a table with them, and coming home to experience everything I love about my town and the place that unrelentingly supports and encourages me. I am who I am because of these small family dinners, and even if we do not fill up my dining room table, I would not trade them for anything.Chast_2010_11_22_0071215-Thanksgiving-Slideshow2