With the month of November well on its way, many students are gearing up for the highlight of the month: Thanksgiving.
For many students, Thanksgiving means going home and enjoying a week of family, friends and food.
Some Bob Jones University students spend their breaks enjoying the quiet of campus because their homes are distant or even outside the country.
For these students, university faculty, staff, and families in local churches have been kind enough to open their homes.
For some of the students who are able to return home, the Thanksgiving festivities start the night before the holiday. Luke VanEtten, a freshman accounting major, recounts his family’s traditions for Thanksgiving Eve.
“Generally we go to a Thanksgiving service at my church the night before,” he said.
For others like Kimberly Cornelius, a sophomore Christian ministries major, that evening is used for family time. Cornelius remembered spending the night before Thanksgiving watching A Christmas Carol with her family.
The morning of Thanksgiving marks the beginning of many families’ festivities. For some this means taking a trip to the grandparents’ house. Savanah Maskell, a senior music education major, makes a trip from Maine to Connecticut to visit family. “My family, every Thanksgiving, goes to my grandma’s house,” she said.
According to Alli Burak, a sophomore elementary education major, the morning is also spent enjoying some of the parades shown on television.
One of the main attractions of Thanksgiving is the food. For breakfast, some families have special dishes, like Stephanie Cornelius, a senior cross-cultural service major, whose family enjoys cinnamon buns. Grace Taber, a creative writing major, and her family bake cranberry cheese bread for Thanksgiving breakfast.
Some dishes are so popular that they always make an appearance for the annual feast. For both the Cornelius family and Jonathan Acrey, a sophomore Bible major, ham is served as part of the meal alongside the traditional turkey.
Every year, junior engineering major Jon Watson looks forward to his grandmother’s cooking. “My grandmother makes this fantastic meat stuffing,” he said.
Although many families enjoy the traditional American fare, the menu also has many variations. Jonathan Sanchez, a senior Spanish major, tweaks his family’s meal by adding Hispanic foods.
“You can think of it as a double because you have all that you would have with an American meal plus the Hispanic food,” he said.
For junior business administration major Josh Richards, the traditional American foods are supplemented with plenty of the Filipino foods like pancit, a noodle dish, and lumpia, meat-filled egg rolls.
To finish off the meal, desserts are a must. “My grandma is an amazing cook,” Maskell said. “She makes every pie known to mankind.”
Richards said that his family has a tradition of sharing a tub of ice cream for Thanksgiving dessert. Taber and her family enjoy sweet potato pie while watching Miracle on 34th Street.
Before the day’s big meal, some families have special traditions. Taber described her family’s tradition of giving thanks. “Right before we eat, we’ll go around and say one physical thing we’re thankful for and one thing we’re spiritually thankful for,” she said.
After all the eating is done, the afternoon is dedicated to many different activities. Megan Wagoner, a first-year educational leadership graduate student, said in her family, afternoons are spent enjoying football and drawing names for Christmas gifts.
For Stephen Field, a second-year cross-cultural studies graduate student, the evening is spent watching the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and starting to decorate and prepare for Christmas.
Burak recalls taking advantage of the snow on some Thanksgiving evenings. “If there’s snow, we’ll celebrate it by going sledding at midnight,” she said.
No matter how each family celebrates Thanksgiving, however, there is an underlying sense of gratefulness to God for the year’s blessings. According to Wagoner, “[Thanksgiving] puts life in perspective, and you realize how good you have it.”