For the years that I remember Thanksgiving, I spent them in Fort Dodge, Norfolk, or Lincoln, up through my 21st year. In each of these cases, I was with my immediate family, and often my grandparents and/or aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was purely a family event.
For my next six years, I was not around my immediate family, but was around my cousins and aunt & uncle in Milwaukee, whom I did not see very often when I used to live in Lincoln. It wasn’t just family at this one, as a dear family friend of my aunt and uncle joined us each Thanksgiving that I was there.
But here I am in my 28th year [HOW I WISH I WAS [sic] IN SHERBROOKE NOW!]. Though I was “somewhat” close to Milwaukee, the problem this year was that my cousins weren’t based on an extenuating circumstance.
I found out about this extenuating circumstance about a week before Thanksgiving, so I had to shift plans. Obviously, it was going to be prohibitively expensive to fly to Lincoln, and I didn’t relish the idea of driving a 16-hour round-trip on the Wednesday and Sunday of the weekend.
The good news: earlier in the fall, the parents of one of my good friends from Northwestern, who have hosted me for a few שבת (Shabbat) evenings during my time in Menomonie, offered to host me for Thanksgiving. I let them know about my situation, and they readily accepted my request. (Said friend was also going to be there, of course.)
The day of Thanksgiving, although it was different while not being around my immediate or extended family, was still great. The drama in the kitchen, the low-key conversations, and the Togetherness all made it worth it. I felt like I was back at home, and felt very much at home as a guest. There is something very nice about being a good friend, and close friends can feel like family even when there is no blood-relation or romantic/marital relation. (I think I’m also very good at fitting in to certain dynamics.)
This was the first time that I have spent time with her immediate family for something other than a Hebrew-calendar holiday (since שבת is really a holiday), and it was really nice!
Regardless of with whom you are, the fact of being around others is critical on holidays. Spend them with the people that mean the most to you, and are also the most readily accessible!
(Of course, my blog policy about not usually giving explicit opinions of specific people continues here.)
חנוכה: שבעה ימים
Finals Week: 16 days.
Joint Mathematics Meetings: 36 days.