Thanksgiving is ordinarily a time spent with family, but for students who live far away from campus, it’s not always possible to head home for the holiday. But celebrating Thanksgiving apart from friends and family back home doesn’t stop Northwestern students from getting into the holiday spirit.
One way students get into the spirit of Thanksgiving is through a new tradition on campus, Stegenga Hall’s “Secret Turkey.” A variation of the classic Secret Santa, “Secret Turkey” was started by Stegenga’s Resident Director Celeste Ryan last year and runs Monday – Thursday the week before Thanksgiving break.
“It started last year and it went really well, so it has now become a tradition in Steggy,” said Steggy resident assistant Kayli Christiansen. “A lot of the women participate as it is an opportunity to bless someone that you may not know well during the holiday season.”
The week before, residents all sign up and get matched with someone else in the building. There is a $5 limit on gifts for the week, encouraging participants to get creative with their gift giving.
“Some come up with a theme, like giving them a different color nail polish every day or a crayon one day, a marker one day, and a coloring book the next,” Christiansen said. “It’s really fun to see how everyone can integrate their own personality into their gifts.”
Individual students also get into the spirit of the holiday by celebrating their own Thanksgiving traditions. Sophomore Emily Tirado is one of the students staying on campus over break. Tirado makes the most of her time by spending it with others on campus.
“I try to find some people who don’t have any plans or anywhere to go to get together and maybe have a meal together as well,” Tirado said.
Tirado also finds creative ways to spend time with family on the holiday. “My sister and I FaceTime each other and watch a ‘Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,’” Tirado said. “We have been doing that for the past eight years. And usually if everyone is available we call every family member and tell them why we are thankful for them.”
Senior Amber Gilpin is also planning to stay on campus over break.
Every year she celebrates a little differently, spending the holiday with her host family or helping serve a Thanksgiving meal at Living Water Community Church.
Although Gilpin always manages to do something special for Thanksgiving, she does miss going to her uncle’s ranch in Wyoming, where they have smoked beef for their Thanksgiving meal.
“I’m always slightly disappointed by the ‘normal’ Thanksgiving Day food I eat here,” Gilpin said. “It just doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving without smoked beef.”
Not every NW student is able to celebrate Thanksgiving with family, but being at college makes the holiday even more memorable as new traditions are made and there is even more to be thankful for.