November 12, 2021 | OPINION | By Emma McDermott | Illustration by Emmaline Hawley

Let’s be clear: Thanksgiving is not all it’s made out to be. Yeah, it’s nice to see family and share a meal. Yeah, it’s an American tradition. Most importantly though, it’s a time to appreciate what you have, which is always a worthy endeavor. 

But the food is only decent, and the football doesn’t last long enough to rescue you from that dreaded conversation that inevitably devolves into politics with your chain-smoking uncle-in-law.

I’ve never been that big a fan of Thanksgiving. I don’t know why this is –– it has all the makings to be a top-tier holiday. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t have the magic of Christmas, the energy of trick-or-treaters high on sugar on Halloween, the entertainment of people making fools of themselves on St. Patrick’s Day, or the unmatched electricity of the Fourth of July. Whatever it is, Thanksgiving’s never lived up to its potential, in my book.

I always feel tired and gross at the end of the day. I feel like it’s a holiday that’s become superficialized; we go through the motions of being thankful, have delicate conversations with relatives we only see every so often, eat our weight in turkey and mashed potatoes, roll our eyes at the drunk siblings fighting over their parents’ estate, and then run to the malls to get more stuff. A day of consuming, I guess.

But this year, I’m excited for Thanksgiving.

First and foremost, I’m looking forward to seeing my parents and siblings. Since moving away from home, Thanksgiving has become a chance for me to be with the people who shaped me, the people I love the most, which doesn’t happen all that often anymore. This only happened upon going to college; before this, it was just a week off from school that often led to much fighting amongst me and my siblings. Now, though, it’s time I cherish.

I’m lucky enough to be able to travel to the place I call home (Maggie Santos, don’t you dare give me a ring) and be surrounded by family. That’s not a luxury everyone enjoys, especially during the current state of the world. And, though my past self would be wildly disappointed in how soft I have become, I have expanded my definition of “family” to include the non-human members, too.

I used to be the miserable, heartless type of person that didn’t miss or look forward to seeing their pets. But things have changed. After much personal growth and nearly the entirety of last year spent with my animal-adoring (bordering on obsessive) roommate, Mariel Zech ’23, I am a transformed woman; I have been properly socialized to appreciate cute things.

And this is the first Thanksgiving since my family got a dog, a little Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Ozzy, that I’ll be able to go home for. He’s a pandemic puppy, and since on-campus students had to stay in Colorado over break last year I didn’t get to see him all semester.

I can’t wait for Ozzy’s failed, yet determined attempt to maul me with love, which I know with certainty will end in him springing himself across the hardwood floors only to be stopped by the wall trim. Or for our spirited Bombay cat, T’Challa (after Black Panther), to reach his front paws up to my waist and meow at me until I pick him up, cradle him like an infant, and pet him. 

Another reason I’m excited for Thanksgiving is that it means I’ll get some much-needed time away from Colorado College (something I genuinely never thought I’d say). While the pandemic should be taken seriously, I’m quite sick of CC’s handling of it at the moment. 

The administration’s slow communication with students about on-campus cases and next steps is beyond frustrating; if the college is going to panic about this, the reality of the situation should be made clear to students. And, for the love of God, don’t blame it on Halloween weekend without acknowledging the college’s potential role in this by inviting thousands of Colorado Springers, a mere 55.6% of whom are fully vaccinated, to hockey games on Oct. 30 and Nov. 5 and 6.

The emotional toll of having yet another block moved to Zoom has been overwhelming, upsetting, and disappointing. Thanksgiving break will offer a respite from the stress, anxiety, and frustration of both the pandemic and CC’s response to it, something for which I am grateful.

On a brighter note, there’s a lot to look forward to. Maybe it’s not Thanksgiving Day so much as the entire week I’m excited for. But I think that’s more in line with the spirit of Thanksgiving, anyways. It’s not the food or novelty of the day that I’m particularly ready for but the ten days I’ll get in a place that I love with people I love. And time to just be present again and enjoy the things I’m sometimes too busy to appreciate.

In many ways, the past few years have sucked. But there have also been some good parts. There are so many things I appreciate now that I didn’t appreciate nearly enough before. Time with family. Science. Pets. Finishing a workout. Health. Going to class. My roommates. Good food. Concerts. The view of Pikes every morning. The list goes on.

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