A friend of mine once commented that being at Georgetown over Thanksgiving break is a lot like being at Hogwarts over Christmas. Everyone disappears rather suddenly, leaving you to empty halls and the occasional snowflake. For better or worse, you have the place to yourself.
I haven’t gone home for Thanksgiving at any point in my college career. Even discounting the year I was in France, I’ve never been able to justify the day and a half of travel and the $400 it would take to fly back to Oregon, just so that I could spend three or four days with my family. It just has never made sense, especially so close to Christmas.
I’ve noticed that you get a certain reaction when you say you’re not going to be with family for Thanksgiving. A sort of pity, almost, an eyebrow furrow, and oftentimes an invitation to join the pitier for dinner. As if you were a lost kitten in need of shelter and some warm milk.
To be honest, staying at school for Thanksgiving has never particularly bothered me. I spent one year doing dinner with my uncle on the other side of the city. My housemate, an Arizona native, has never gone home for Thanksgiving either, so my freshman year was spent eating dinner with her and marathoning Warehouse 13. (As, I imagine, this year will be–though with a different show, perhaps.)
I’m certainly not the only one to be far from family this Thursday. In addition to people like my roommate and me–people who don’t have the time and/or money to fly across the country for a weekend–there are all the international students on campus, for whom the cost is more extravagant and the holiday less significant. Then there are all of those people who don’t have the luxury of taking the day off: the retail workers preparing for Black Friday and manning cash registers in case of last-minute cranberry sauce emergencies, the bus drivers and airport staff who make it possible for people to reach their loved ones. People who don’t necessarily need or want our pity, but those who certainly deserve our appreciation.
And at the end of the day, some things are just as true on Thanksgiving as they are every other day of the year. I have a family who loves me, no matter how far apart we may be. I have friends who enjoy my company. I have a roof over my head and food in my cupboards. I have a wonderful city right at my doorstep, bursting with opportunity. I have just about everything a girl could ask for, and even if I’m not spending the holiday with my family, that’s something to be thankful for.