As fun and enlightening as college can be it is also a challenge, and many students find themselves longing for the luxuries of home and the comfort of family traditions during the most difficult days of the semester. The knowledge that there is something to look forward to after midterms and finals can be the push that students need to get them through their exams and the final days before the holiday break. Several students on campus shared what they are looking forward to for Thanksgiving break, and most of their expectations had to do with food.
One student told me about how much she loves potatoes. Baked potatoes, fried potatoes, roasted potatoes, basically every type of potato except for the traditional mashed potatoes served in homes all across America on Thanksgiving Day. “They freak me out” she confided and added that her parents are always sure to make a small serving of boiled potatoes just for her in addition to the traditional mashed that they serve.
Another student, Mike Kutz, told me that Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be the same without mashed potatoes. His family takes a spoonful of mashed potatoes and folds it within a ball of stuffing to make stuffing balls. “We put them in the oven so that they are crunchy on the outside and softer on the inside. It’s the best,” he said.
Other families find that they like to augment their side dishes with nontraditional dishes. Two Pitt-Bradford sisters from Eldred, Pa., told me that their family has to have kluski egg noodles as part of their Thanksgiving dinner. Normally used in homemade chicken noodle soup, kluski noodles aren’t something that one would find around every holiday table in America, and it’s the thing that these students look forward to the most when going home for the holidays.
Senior nursing major, Elizabeth Young, reminisced about her family’s tradition of slathering their turkey in mayonnaise before putting it in the oven instead of basting it throughout its cooking cycle. “It makes the turkey a nice brown color,” she informed me.
Elizabeth Tillman, a senior human relations major, told me about her family’s tradition of making use of the turkey carcass after stripping all of its meat. “We like to dress it up and take pictures of it. It’s our family tradition.”
My own family insists on keeping the wishbone of the turkey and letting it dry out until New Year’s Day. Two people will then make a wish and pull the bone apart. Whoever gets the biggest piece is the person whose wish will come true.
No matter what the tradition, students tend to find comfort and peace in the reliability of their family traditions. This holiday season when your students are under pressure from their classes remind them about what they have to look forward to when they do come home for the holidays.