Though Thanksgiving may often be overlooked due to being directly between Halloween and Christmas, it is still a beloved holiday. It represents a sense of unity within family and friends. The classic celebration is well known; a full dinner with a golden-brown turkey and a table surrounded by loved ones. But how do the various people we see every day celebrate their versions? I’ve asked around our lovely campus, and I’ve found some new traditions from your classmates and advisors.
Junior Amy Channell says that she begins to look forward to her family’s Thanksgiving as early as August. When asked to share her family’s story, her gaze was filled with the same sense of love and warmth she must feel when surrounded by the people she loves the most. As she spoke, I could hear the significance of this celebration.
It always begins on a Wednesday night after Amy’s family travels to Statesboro, Georgia. A mixture of family and friends arrive, usually totaling from fifty to seventy-five people. They congregate around a large bonfire to catch up. They stay up all night and wind up falling asleep in various locations around the giant house. Meanwhile, Amy’s uncle roasts an entire pig on that same bonfire. After cooking the pig twenty-four hours, he wakes everyone up early the next morning to try a piece before they fall asleep again. Friday night, everyone kicks off the Christmas season by making small snowman mints. On Saturday, they go to a Georgia Southern football game, if it is a home game. Sunday, everyone says goodbye and returns home.
Dr. Laine Scott, Chair of the Humanities Department, has celebrated a variety of Thanksgiving traditions in her lifetime. She grew up spending the holiday with her immediate family, but when she attended college nine hundred miles away, going home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas was not possible. This led to spending the holiday with friends close by or going to new places. Dr. Scott has spent Turkey Day overseas in Paris, Germany, Prague and Czechoslovakia, and Tokyo. She has also spent her time in various locations stateside, such as Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and even once at a surgery rehabilitation hospital in Warm Springs, Georgia after knee surgery.
However, Dr. Scott told me that some of her favorite Thanksgiving memories involve her friend Peggy McNamara. This includes celebrating together in Paris seven years ago, as well as an interesting adventure at a bed and breakfast in upstate New York. They were the only guests and sole residents of the B&B as the entire staff went home that night. After staying completely alone, Dr. Scott laughed, saying, “I don’t even remember that year’s meal; I just recall being holed up in our room, our hearts pounding whenever we heard an unexplained noise.”
One of my favorite traditions from on campus comes from our very own chaplain, Adam Roberts. His home hosts what has been appropriately named “Friendsgiving,” a wholesome gathering for friends and family. People bring food, pot-luck style, and get a chance to celebrate Thanksgiving with a loving group of people.
The Roberts began this tradition when they found they lived too far away from their relatives to have a “traditional” Thanksgiving celebration. Instead of accepting this and celebrating alone, they decided to open their house to start something kind and memorable. This allowed the Roberts to celebrate a Thanksgiving holiday by providing a haven for others who are far from their friends at family at this time of year.
Thanksgiving, just like any other holiday, comes with many diverse emotions and traditions. It’s interesting to hear peoples’ stories. It makes them seem so much more alive to watch their faces alight with the love that they wish to share with you. Ask your friends how they celebrate, and share your own! This is the time of the year where we focus especially on giving thanks for the wonderful people in our lives. There is love around you, for you, and for the ones you care most about. Enjoy your holiday traditions, no matter how you celebrate.
Lila Phurrough is from LaGrange, GA. She is a second year freshman and a proud member of Alpha Omicron Pi. She is a psychology and art double major.