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.
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.