When you’re in elementary, middle or high school Thanksgiving is often just another holiday family gathering where you HAVE TO kiss or hug all the relatives you don’t even really know and answer all their intrusive questions. In college those same encounters happen but we’re adults (although we may not actually be nor are we treated like them), yet nothing has changed. We get asked what we want to do with our life, are we being successful in every way, are we in a relationship, what are we doing after college, isn’t our parents so lucky to have us home, etc. The list goes on. It can be awkward and uncomfortable to deal with. If you have a huge family gathering with relatives you haven’t seen before or only every Thanksgiving why do they ask these questions about us? Don’t they remember when they were asked these same questions and have to stifle an eye roll “here we go again the same questions I don’t want to answer”. Do they really want to hear what’s up with us? Often a generic answer is good enough to deflect attention away so why do these interactions always come up?
In part, as college students we often don’t know what we want, how we’re doing, what we’re doing next nor want to explain it a bajillion times to each relative who’s just trying to make conversation. It’s not to say these questions aren’t important ones or meant to show an interest in family members but if you truly cared about these people (besides the elderly who can’t remember) you would already know the answers to these questions or spare us the wry fake smile and answers. Society has taught us we have to be nice and thankful during thanksgiving, lucky to be able to spend time with family when maybe large gatherings make us anxious, maybe we have a 10 page paper due by the end of the weekend, maybe all we really want to do is let loose and not think about school, the future and enjoy the weekend. This is not to say family gatherings are awful but I think everyone can relate to sometimes Thanksgiving is an especially tiring and enjoyable time. The end of semester is basically in sight behind all the papers, take-homes, presentations, lab reports, and exams and the past three months of the semester is catching up to us all we really want is a break.
Especially this thanksgiving I think its important to reaffirm our love and care for one another and in doing so, discuss meaningful things and relaxing times to get to re-know each other beyond the generic questions. Get back to the meaning of Thanksgiving (perhaps beyond its awful historical origins) but to give thanks.
What is something you’re thankful for?
What is something you’re proud about?
How can your family continue to support you?
Moving forward, what actions are you taking to live your values?
How can you express your care and love to your family and others?
What in the world concerns you?
What excites you in the upcoming future?
What did you really think of the food? (this may be a tough one lol)
Its difficult and scary to talk about these things but in doing so we can better understand each other and support each other. They are meant to start a dialogue to get to know our family and what that means to one another moving forward. Thanksgiving is a time for family to come together and support one another.