Ah yes, Thanksgiving, the time of year when you’re confronted with relatives, political differences, imposing questions about your love life, your lack of a summer internship and high school friends you haven’t talked to since the last break. Even though the meaning of Thanksgiving is to come together despite differences, to me it marks the ultimate moment of impending doom when your past and future are finally reconciled into one apocalyptic day. Thanksgiving is a time to be confronted with all of your subconscious fears, be brought up by your relatives and comfort yourself by eating an entire pumpkin pie. At least it’s convenient.
To begin the tale of my Thanksgiving, we are in Boston Logan airport at 3:45 a.m. after a sleepless night post-Yale-Harvard game surrounded by other slightly hungover (or still drunk) Yalies waiting for their flights home. Personally, I got on my flight, zipped up my parka, fell asleep before they went through safety information and woke up at home. As usual, I was booked with things to do and people to see from the minute I got home until the night I left. It was at this point where I realized constantly booking yourself with things to do when you are home is basically a form of Stockholm syndrome manifested from the GCal invite culture of Yale where my only form of relaxation comes from my 20-minute prescheduled naps in Starr Main Reading Room.
Before I knew it, the day had arrived: Thanksgiving. My mom tasked me with one obviously simple task — waking up at 7 a.m. to begin cleaning the house so it was absolutely spotless for company. I was instructed that there must be no evidence of human activity in this space, and if something looks out of place, throw it away because if our house didn’t look straight out of Good Housekeeping magazine by 11:55, I would not be welcome at home anymore. Seems simple, right? Regardless, I miraculously pulled off an HGTV’s “Property Brothers” moment and deleted all signs of life from my house as my mom frantically cooked enough food for roughly 60 people even though we anticipated a maximum of 20. I love a zero-waste household.
Eventually, family trickled in and thus began the awkward period before dinner where we all sat in the living room and wondered who is going to be interrogated first. Thankfully, my burden was delayed because my cousin recently got married; this took precedence over my lack of boyfriend, empty resume, unattainable career aspirations and increasing stress levels as finals loom upon return to Yale. In all honesty, thanks to Yale for giving me one good thing to my name in terms of family-approved life accomplishments. At the end of the day, at least I can say I go to Yale. Might not be at the very top per se, but yeah, Grandma, I do go here. My uncle claims I’m being corrupted and brainwashed by the East Coast Elite. (Slander.)
Finally, we transitioned to the dining room, and I decided to fill half my plate with stuffing and the other half with mashed potatoes — a truly ambitious carbohydrate crossover event. The second I sat down, my grandmother turned to me and asked almost every question I would put on my personal “do not ask list,” including but not limited to: Why don’t you have a boyfriend? What are your plans for this summer? What are you going to do with a degree in history? What are your thoughts on the current political climate? How’s the semester going? Are you doing work over the break? When are your finals? What are you going to contribute to society? Aren’t your deadlines approaching? No, Grandma, I actually had no idea that time itself is continually passing and I’m only getting closer towards the inevitable deadlines and decisions that you’re discussing. Yep, absolutely no idea. My sense of purpose in the world and lack of direction is definitely not a looming question I have been pondering for as long as I remember. I’m actually thinking about the $1.54 printing refund I requested yet have not received. It was at this point I shoved two rolls into my mouth and deflected questions to my other cousin — make the theater kid deal with it.
In spite of Thanksgiving forcing me to confront the questions plaguing my unconscious thoughts, I love my family and appreciate the time I get to spend with them. Where else can I be directly called out on my bullshit and not be able to answer with anything besides something productive? Sure, you might have to tolerate (and confront) a few completely politically incorrect comments from your grandpa and a newly felt lack of connection to your hometown as you reconcile your identities at home and at school, but at the end of the day at least you can binge eat some good food and slip into a food coma.
Lindsay Jost | firstname.lastname@example.org .