The holiday season for most college students is a time of joy. There is free laundry, free food and your entire family crammed into a house that’s too small for the distant, extended reaches of your family to occupy. My family is rather extended as well, but on the East Coast, so most of the time it’s just not feasible for me to travel for that delicious turkey and stuffing.
Enter my roommate, who graciously offered this culinary vagabond a spot at his parents’ table with his brother as well. The catch, if I can call it that, was his parents’ managed The Jefferson, a rather lavish retirement home, as far as retirement homes go, in Middleton, Wisconsin.
Thanksgiving at The Jefferson would be an entirely new experience for the whole brood, so no one knew exactly what to expect. The brothers both spoke of turkey gilded with gold and stuffed with the bread of the gods, making each other salivate while dwelling on past Thanksgivings the night beforehand.
Together we made our game plan: X amount of mashed potatoes, Y slices of turkey, and at least Z pieces of pumpkin pie. While we drifted off to sleep on unfamiliar mattresses, our minds were put to rest on top of fluffy clouds of whipped cream.
Prepared for marathon eating, we awoke just before the crack of noon. Thanksgivings past echoed around our minds as we approached the golden hour, walking through the hallways of the retirement home, passing those using walkers without remorse. This was Thanksgiving and eating is a young man’s game.
We sat on the outskirts of the dining hall, sipping on coffee and cranberry juice, our orders in the kitchen. We glanced at each other making our estimations of how good the cranberry sauce was going to be. We had our forks and knives prepared to plunge into a sea of gravy, but when our plates were placed in front of us, a little bit of disappointment escaped me.
I realized that while I’ve been waiting for the food, I’ve completely missed the meaning of Thanksgiving and swapped it with my own selfish one. I wasn’t immediately thankful for the family that offered me a spot at their table, my friends and family worldwide and a million other reasons that I should be thankful. I was just eager for a plate of delicious food, which I received albeit undeservingly.
For the rest of the day, I was able to savor what actually matters about Thanksgiving, spending time with my friends and my adopted family, the opportunities I receive on a day to day basis to better myself and watching the Packers remain undefeated. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving break and are well-prepared for these coming weeks of finals and projects.