Thanksgiving, for me, used to be filled with happy memories and laughter, but now it comes with dread and hesitation. My family has had a long tradition of preparing food the days before Thanksgiving and waking up to watch the parade while we all eat cinnamon rolls. Now that my sister and I are adults, we maybe roll out of bed just in time to watch the parade, eat some food and there’s a high probability that we will fall asleep mid-parade. It also is not helpful that it has come to my attention that I have a cinnamon allergy, so goodbye cinnamon rolls. As the day progressed, we would greet the family at the door and enjoy time together. Now my heart races as members come to the door knowing someone will make a comment that will send me into a complete tailspin. I hold my breath waiting for one of my family members to drop a comment about my sexuality, religion, health or appearance. The past was filled with family cooking and sharing of recipes. Now, it is chaos to figure out who hosts, cooks and has an issue with who. Honestly, I get it now; thank god for alcohol (of course, in moderation). Being 21 is a blessing.
Going home for Thanksgiving is such an odd experience in college. On the one hand, I cannot wait to see my friends and family in New Jersey, and on the other, I do not want to leave my friends, schedule and life in Ithaca. It’s not like it is ever really a break anyway. I still have assignments and finals pre-work I have to do. And god forbid I took the break for myself. I end up falling behind and drowning in work when I return to Ithaca. There is no winning. I am thankful that break is a whole week instead of most of my friends who only get out a day or two before Thanksgiving. Seeing home friends during college breaks is also a bizarre experience that I wish I had been briefed on at first. Now I have the most solid friendships with people from home than I ever had, but my first few years at home were a bit rocky. It was always awkward “hellos,” and “how are your classes?” Now my friends and I just fall right back into our groove, mainly because we take time to stay in better contact throughout the school year. If you and your home friends don’t have a dedicated Discord channel to talk and play JackBox games, I highly recommend it.
Juggling friend groups and friendships, in general, is a skill you have to build. It takes work and effort on both ends, and something that college has taught me is if they are not giving you the same amount of energy that you are giving them or you don’t feel like the relationship is working anymore, it is okay to move on. People grow and change and maybe your paths will join again in the future, but evolution and self-growth are natural.