Students share their experiences spending Thanksgiving with friends


Thanksgiving has always been Erin Jones ’17’s favorite holiday. For Jones, the holiday “brings together family, friends and food.” 

However, Jones, like many other out-of-state or international students, has spent Thanksgiving during her time here with other families. “Given my love for Thanksgiving, not being able to spend it with my family was initially quite the let down, but as a result of making wonderful friends here, their families have become my alternative family,” said Jones. Her sophomore year Jones was able to spend Thanksgiving with her roommate’s family. She described the experience as quite different from her own family’s celebration, which is an all day affair involving lots of board games, music and bottles of wine, in addition to the much-loved turkey feast. However, she said that she had a wonderful time and that she was very “grateful to have such welcoming people on this coast.”

She said, “It can be rather difficult to be away from all of my loved ones, especially when I know they are all in the same house together at the very moment I am missing them.”

This year, Jones will be spending Thanksgiving locally with a family friend whom her parents have known for many years. “This Thanksgiving will be much more low key than ones in the past, as there aren’t a large number of people coming, however I’m sure it will be relaxing and that’s really what I need at this point in the semester,” Jones added.

Nia Bartolucci ’17 said that her first year at Mount Holyoke she was invited to by a friend attending Hampshire College help cook a Thanksgiving dinner in their mod. “We had never cooked a turkey before so we ended up calling her dad to walk us through it,” she said.

Bartolucci said that sometimes it can be hard to not be able to go home for Thanksgiving, but has learned to adapt. “Over my years of college, being across the country I have learned to create ‘family’ and create ‘home’ away from home,” said Bartolucci. “Thanksgiving for me is a time to express my gratitude and realize how fortunate I am. Even though I may not be spending the day with my family I can call them and we can share our what we are grateful for.” 

Bartolucci added that she often returns to this quote from author Melody Beattie, that she believes expresses the spirit of Thanksgiving. The quote reads: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

This year she will be spending Thanksgiving with her boyfriend and his family in Maine. 

Danielle Arshinoff ’17 spent last year’s Thanksgiving with a friend’s extended family in Rhode Island. She described the family as “very welcoming and friendly” and that “coming from a small family of five people, being with my friend’s family with multiple cousins was a bit overwhelming but a great experience.” Arshinoff said that the holiday celebration was quite different. “The main difference was that everyone drank lots of milk,” she said, while at her home people usually drank wine, juice or water. Another difference she noted was her friend’s family’s tradition of a “Wine Table” after the meal, where the adults gathered to talk about political, philosophical and academic issues.

“The reason behind the celebration of the two Thanksgivings is very different. Typically, Canadian Thanksgiving focuses on celebrating the harvest, which is why it is celebrated earlier in the year when the leaves are changing colors,” said Arshinoff. During her Thanksgiving, people tend to go pumpkin or apple picking in order to “make fresh and yummy pies.”

This year Arshinoff said that she will be “spending my time on campus getting some work done and making lots of fly food for my lab.” Her sister will also be joining her on Monday before break and staying through Wednesday. Arshinoff said, “this short time together will be nice since I would not have seen her until winter break and I miss her.”

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