When it comes to Thanksgiving break I suffer from delusions of grandeur.
I am now a junior here at Georgetown. And as cringe-worthy as that statement is for me (i.e., I am old, the real world is impending and other similar existential dilemmas), it does carry with it an innate sense of know-how. Pre-registration makes a little more sense to me these days and I have grown more adept at cobbling together creative meals at Leo’s. But when it comes to booking my flight home for Thanksgiving, I am pitifully inept. Every year I manage to book my flight under the assumption that none of my classes will be cancelled. In short, I am clueless. And so, as I write this, I am acridly bitter because this year my flight home arrives at O’Hare International Airport at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday night. It’s my own fault. Even my parents are embarrassed by my naivete. “Margaret, no one goes to class on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Who are you kidding?”
This also means I am cutting into valuable time that could be spent checking off my annual “Thanksgiving To Do List.” For all intents and purposes, Thanksgiving is a glorified long weekend. But the way I plan for it, you’d think I had a three-month sabbatical ahead of me. I always expect that I will manage to accomplish any number of things: catching up with friends from home, stopping by all my favorite restaurants, starting my holiday shopping, getting my hair cut and doctor’s appointment in – and still finding time to savor the chance to sit on the couch and do large, glorious amounts of nothing.
I think I do this to myself – lay the anticipation on thick, as if basting my own turkey or slathering cream cheese frosting on pumpkin pie – because I believe so strongly in the value of Thanksgiving both as a wonderful respite before the anxiety of finals and as a holiday. For a holiday that today holds no religious affiliation (unless a collective expression of gratitude has been tethered down by dogma now too), it boasts well-established and refreshingly simple traditions. And truth be told, I find the consistency in the celebration of Thanksgiving remarkably comforting.
I relish in imagining the Thanksgiving dinners taking place across the nation: the requisite essentials in the turkey (or tofurkey), the beautiful table settings and the tedious dishwashing they result in, the cranberries, the stuffing and the gathering together of families by blood or by choice. Certainly the nuances of the Thanksgiving celebration vary from household to household; for the Delaneys, not trying at least a sliver of all three pies offered for dessert is strictly verboten.
This year I will spend Thanksgiving in a town in Wisconsin that is charmingly Americana. We will drive to my aunt and uncle’s house and watch football (of both the televised variety and the game of touch that inevitably starts up in the backyard), we’ll gather around for dinner and dessert and then stroll Cedarburg’s main street by night to marvel at the holiday displays already set up in the windows. It’s cold there this time of year, and so the brisk walk is immediately followed by hot chocolate and board games back at the house.
Thanksgiving is the harbinger of the season of unsullied holiday spirit. It has remained untainted by large-scale consumerism and the things that make Thanksgiving unique, such as sharing a meal with family and friends are timeless. Too many things exist in flux in our daily existence; I am relieved to know that Thanksgiving will always fall on the fourth Thursday of November and that my family will always debate between whether to play charades or Apples to Apples first. The fact that as a society we can still manage to devote an entire day to cherishing those things that are truly important is heartening and commendable – not to mention delicious. And so I resign myself to the fact that I will have to wait until Wednesday night to kick off another whirlwind Thanksgiving break. After all, if the end result is golden, the rest is gravy.
Margaret Delaney is a junior in the College. She can be reached at mdelaneythehoya.com. I Know This Much Is True appears every other Tuesday.