Contributed by Maxane Keogh
‘It’s that awkward time of year before Christmas when you’re not sure if you should start breaking out the scarves and fairy lights yet; however, it’s also getting very cold and Aldi is already selling Christmas chocolates sooooooo…
I offer you a middle ground. A time of feasting before Christmas, to celebrate the most American holiday I can think of (apart from Independence Day): THANKSGIVING.’
Make a Facebook event. Check. Write a funny, yet informative description. Check. Invite friends from various walks of life. Check. And now we wait…
In the week leading up to the party, my friends kept approaching me and telling me how excited they were for Thanksgiving. They also asked me questions like: Is it alright if they bring this food, can they bring this friend along, what was I going to wear? With every question my own excitement intensified. Feeding off of the anticipation, I messaged almost everyone who had RSVP’d and assigned them something to bring.
‘I think some sweet potato mash would be appreciated, Max.’
‘Ana, can you bring roasted veggies?’ I also specified: ‘for every Brussels sprout that is brought through the door I will destroy a city.’
Potluck, a North American word, meaning guests contribute to the festivities by bringing a dish. But because my housemates hadn’t read the description, they got panicky thinking we were going to cook a feast for 20 by ourselves. ‘Feeding the 5,000’ as Kieren described it. In the end, we decided the house would provide the stuffing, cranberry sauce (essential!), and turkey.
And what a turkey we had! This thing was a veritable beast, not unlike what Scrooge requests in A Christmas Carol. ‘Feeds 11-14 people.’ Oh, I bet you do. We had to leave this monstrous bird to defrost for nearly two days before stuffing, seasoning, and shoving it in our nearly-too-small oven—not without myriad innuendos and jokes, and just general disgust while touching the rubbery flesh (#justThanksgivingthings).
Saturday the 24th. Two days after American Thanksgiving, and my dad’s showboating of the party I missed back home.
A ring of the doorbell marked the start of the evening, and before long the house was brimming with friends. The feast that lined our kitchen counter looked worthy of an army! Thanks to our guests, we had mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, roasted veg, gravy, falafel, stuffing for both vegetarians and carnivores alike, pigs in blankets, raspberry crumble, apple strudel, assorted mini cakes, and the centerpiece, our glorious turkey.
Thanksgiving is not just an excuse to eat copious amounts of food and look 5 months pregnant at the end of the night, it’s also a night of reflection on everything you take for granted in life. Everything you are grateful for but don’t give much thought to; an occasion to bring people together.
So in the stuffy living room with greasy fingers and a full belly, I looked around, finding myself surrounded by a crowd of people. Old housemates, new housemates, fellow kickboxers, those medic girls I befriended through other friends, that girl from my course I bonded with over boys, and that other girl who has no connection to anyone else (this doesn’t stop her from becoming one of my best friends). All dressed up, happy, warm, and chock full of good food.
This is what Thanksgiving is truly about. Giving thanks for the good things in life—especially when you’re going through a rough patch—bringing together the people who are most important to you. As the crushing weight of final year squeezes the life out of you, it’s important to take a moment to look back on how far you’ve come and who’s been walking that rocky path alongside you.
Despite the slight discomfort from my grossly expanded belly as I lay prostrate in bed that night, I felt the happiest I had been in several weeks. Squeamishly stuffing the turkey, hugging friends upon arrival, dancing with my housemates in the kitchen, Christmas music blaring loud enough to annoy the second year medics next door, and listening to the stories being shared throughout the night was a cathartic experience. And while I will truly miss you all when we graduate and go our separate ways (me, most likely back to America), we will always have Thanksgiving 2018.
Maxane is studying a BA in English Language and Literature and is currently in her third year. She has a love and for traveling internationally, and learning languages. She also loves being active either in a kickboxing class or hiking in the desert in Las Vegas, where she lives with her dad, sister, stepmom, her two dogs and a tortoise. In her free time she also writes, reads, paints, and dances.