Happy Thanksgiving, still
Taking time between holidays to digest meaning
Almost as soon as I woke up Sunday morning to catch my flight back to Charlottesville, I felt the waves of a homework-induced headache descend over me. In the shower, a few faint but clear dry coughs escaped me — signs of the season’s first cold. And despite a week of sleeping 11-plus hours per night, I opened my eyes only a handful of times during my entire eight-hour journey back to Grounds.
The change in mentality from before and after Thanksgiving break — and the physical symptoms such a change inspires — is one of the most amazing phenomenons I’ve ever experienced. The visions of cranberry sauce and stuffing which danced in our heads just one week ago have been replaced with anxiety-generated nightmares of forgotten exams and half-written term papers.
Four days ago, my Instagram feed consisted of quaint family pictures, complete with the mandatory puppy or cute baby, captioned, “#thankful for this #crazybeautifullife #blessed.” Today, my social media interactions consisted almost entirely of stressed out Snapchats from Alderman stacks. No one has time to make the excruciating choice between filters right now.
Though I never have and never will caption anything “#blessed,” I’m the first to admit I’m right in the middle of the emotional rollercoaster myself. And the more I think about it, the more problematic our change in tune seems.
Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. It represents a moment of simplicity and togetherness Americans can be so bad at maintaining — even if our shows of excess and gluttony do undermine that ideal. Regardless, the intent to show appreciation for the gifts that can’t fit under a tree is always there. Even my family members, who manage to sneak drama into each and every occasion, keep it together for a whole day — even if it is because we’re too busy eating to quarrel.
But within the span of two days, we go from being our most selfless to being our most egocentric.
This year was particularly difficult, not only because Thanksgiving provided its usual savory glimpse of life at home during the holidays, but also because it came a mere two weeks before the real winter break. We are so close to the most wonderful time of the year you can literally taste it in the peppermint bark — but in order to get there, we still have to wade through hell on earth.
As the most severe worrywart and “what if” naysayer on the planet, I have perfected the art of pessimism during finals time. I get total tunnel vision and life before and after ceases to exist. In my sleep-deprived delirium, there are times when I actually believe I will never leave Clemons.
I was jolted out of my physical and mental finals sickness this morning, however, when I heard a few people wish each other “Happy Thanksgiving.” Annoyance was my first reaction — something along the lines of, “Why thank you kind sir, for reminding me once again my break is over.”
But when you think about it, it’s really a worthy sentiment. We rush from Thanksgiving to Christmas so quickly we fail to keep the good vibes going. For students, that means moving quickly onto the stress of finals, while for corporate America, it means replacing turkeys with candy canes in a matter of minutes.
Though I don’t blame any of us for feeling winter break is long overdue, we should also remember that boredom tends to set in within the first few days of break. Let’s face it: you can only watch so many episodes of “New Girl” before your longing for Charlottesville sets in. So find a way to make your Thanksgiving last through these final few weeks of school. I guarantee Christmas will still be waiting for you when you get home.
Anne-Marie’s column runs biweekly Tuesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.