November 17, 2010 Thanksgiving break is just around the corner (only two papers to go!), but we were able to get a head start on some of the Turkey Day festivities last weekend. Saturday night, I was invited to attend a Thanksgiving dinner in Babbitt 17, where the girls of that suite as well as the residents of their neighboring Babbitt 18 cooked up a delicious meal to remember.
Having become used to meager Commons meals when the McEwen dining hall closes on the weekends (McEwen is the dining hall on our side of campus, which closes on the weekends), it was a welcome delight to be invited to Thanksgiving dinner. My invitation came with a caveat – come dressed up! I might be a prep school product, but my formal wear at the moment consists of a corduroy blazer, a wrinkled tie, some khakis with a big ink-stain on them, and a couple of dress shirts that have long shrunk too many times in the wash because I don’t bother to dry clean. So I borrowed a dress shirt from my roommate, spent about 10 minutes flattening my striped red and blue tie against my desk, and put my brown corduroy pants and Nike pumps on and hoped that I would look formal enough.
What a festive occasion it was. The girls cooked up a feast. A complete turkey (that they forgot to take the heart in a plastic baggy out beforehand was inconsequential…), delicious stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, yams that tasted like candy but may not have been candied yams, green beans, pumpkin pie, and apple pie. A week and a half ahead of actual Thanksgiving, we all had ourselves a complete food coma.
It was a truly terrific time. Not to stray too far away from Thanksgiving tradition, we went around the room after the main course and all said a couple of things about what we were thankful for. It became redundant, but in the best way possible, because all we could really keep saying was how thankful we were first for the delicious food, and second for each other’s company and friendship. Sappy? Yes. But 37 pounds of food will do that to you. The whole evening amounted to an opportunity for everyone to be as lovable as possible to each other, and after the meal we all settled into the Babbitt 17 common room to more or slip into a state of absolute sloth, knowing that all of us were equally immobile after eating all of that food. How we eventually rallied enough to go to the Titus Andronicus concert later that night, I’m not completely certain.
For the seniors in the room, it was a time of perhaps even more intense self-reflection. It was, after all, a tradition they started together in their sophomore years (I think) to have Thanksgiving dinner together, and given that junior year abroad programs get in the way of people being all together during that time, it was something of a glorious reunion. In general, we were all thankful simply to have each other, the same way when you sit down next Thursday, you’ll be delighted to be surrounded by your own family. There is your family, and then there is your Hamilton family, and it’s wonderful being able to know that you have both.
For many juniors studying abroad, this will be a first Thanksgiving outside the U.S. Hopefully they can find a way to still enjoy it, or at least remember it. My friend Pat Dunn ’12, foreign correspondent currently stationed in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (studying abroad there for the semester), after I told him about my Thanksgiving dinner, asked, “When is Thanksgiving?"