Seniors, amidst this semester's confusion, there are few shinning moments?little glimmering bits of hope to grab hold of as the whirlwind of career searches and nights in the library pass you by. And there really is nothing like the beginning of the holiday season at Bowdoin to remind you just how good we have it for one more year. Case and point: The Thanks Giving feast. My first year here, I could only explain the dinner in these terms?I called my mom and blurted, "I just attended the Hogwarts Banquet!" (Note that this is as nerdy as it sounds, but remember I was a freshman and the meal is just that amazing.) So, maybe there are few who share my sentiment, but coming from Miami, Florida, up to Maine, all it takes is a few strategically positioned candles and a little night chill (maybe some snow) and you feel magically transported into a Harry Potter book.
Still, three years have passed and Thanksgiving dinner at Thorne is never any less impressive. You could go to dinner at 5 p.m. (as I absolutely did) and the campus is already pitch-black, setting the stage for a pretty ideal feast. The food alone is enough to rave about, not to mention that I'm already bordering on starvation having fasted all day in preparation to consume as much as I can in a single sitting. But coupled with the company of my roommates and best friends, this dinner has all of the appeal of a holiday festivity without the loaded politics of family inquiry into your life at school and, because it's that time in your college career, what you plan to do next year.
In the next few days, I'm sure many of you will experience exactly what I'm talking about?the extended family and collection of family friends obviously raises the stakes, while setting an entirely counterintuitive rule that we be on our best behavior. So, now not only are Uncle Frank and his new girlfriend demanding you to explain what you plan to do with your life and your $40,000 education, but they are performing their aggressive interrogation under the pretense of "polite dinner conversation," rendering you utterly defenseless to respond with no more than a slightly passive aggressive "I don't really know yet" and maybe, if you can manage it, a forced smile from across the buffet.
All this being said, this year is still a sure bet; meaning, you're still exactly where you should be and despite all the wondering, there really can't be any disappointment with the fact that you haven't found a job yet. But if we jump ahead to this time next year, there are a couple of places you might be, one obviously having more appeal than the other (but I'll let you be the judge of that). For instance, this time next year you could be planning a flight home from your prestigious place of employment. Mom and Dad are on the phone, almost daily because they miss you so much, and are busy prepping for your long anticipated journey home. After a stressful week, you've cleared a couple of days off, you're excited to see the fam, and you're actually kind of looking forward to getting back into your old bed for a few nights. When you arrive, the whole family is there with a welcome home banner at the terminal?you've clearly been missed and relatives are eager to shower you with praise on your first job.
Scenario two offers a slight variation: you've spent the week in constant communication with Mom and Dad leading up to the holiday?obviously if you live at home and are currently unemployed, why wouldn't they take advantage of hitting you up to run much-needed grocery errands? In fact, at this point, running errands for Mom is kind of like paying rent. Elaborate travel arrangements involve the walk from your old room to the kitchen or maybe from the family room sofa (depending on where you passed out watching TV). As guests arrive, chances are they've probably seen you wandering around the house for the past few months, so there's no need for any big sentimental greetings. Added bonus, Uncle Frank has given up asking questions about your job search, after months of finding you on the couch in your pajamas, even he gets it?you're not planning to move out anytime soon.
So, here it is, all the anxiety of the upcoming family holiday. When you're cornered by anxious relatives with a fury of questions, take comfort in the fact that you're still returning to the safety of this campus and your own dorm room?think of this as a neutral space: you're not paying rent, nor are you on your way to becoming a fixture in your parent's house. You're still exactly where you're supposed to be. Take it in stride and remember you don't have to have all the answers...yet. And whenever in doubt, stuff your face with some turkey (this holiday's all about the eating, so use it to your advantage) and avoid eye contact at all costs.