The holidays have finally reached the Pacific Northwest! The lights are finally up on houses, the turkeys are fully stocked in every grocery store and the weather is getting rapidly colder by the second. While it may be “unbuckle your belt after the Thanksgiving feast” season for you and your family, there are students, faculty and community members that are spending Thanksgiving alone.
Thanksgiving is a holiday of giving thanks and being thankful for all that you have in your life. While the true history of Thanksgiving is somewhat gruesome, it is still meant to be spent with the people you love — those that matter the most to you. At a university, however, this is not always possible. UW Tacoma prides itself on its diverse student body, acknowledging that not everyone will be with family, celebrate or even care about this Thanksgiving.
The norm of being with family on Thanksgiving has been a tradition upheld by different cultures in America, but being alone is perfectly acceptable as well. Students and faculty travel from across the globe to be at UWT — therefore, not everyone is going to observe the holiday or have people to celebrate it with. As someone who travels from Southern California and doesn’t go home for the extended weekend, I tend to celebrate this holiday by making my favorite meal and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. I am perfectly OK with my little holiday tradition, and if you are in a similar position as me, so should you.
You also don’t have to be with family or loved ones on Thanksgiving to know that you are appreciated and loved. While Thanksgiving is a great holiday to recognize your thankfulness, we should be acknowledging our thankfulness year-round. If being surrounded by other people during this holiday isn’t possible, remember that you aren’t totally alone. Being on your own during the holidays can be rough, but it doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate. Learning to appreciate yourself is a good way to make you feel more comfortable with yourself. Being alone doesn’t mean you will or have to feel lonely, it just means that you are by yourself. Besides, with the help of technology — phone calls, text messages and even emails from your professors wishing you the best during your holiday season — at least one person who cares for you will be able to keep in touch.
Sure, the cliche ideal Thanksgiving tradition is being surrounded by a big family sitting around an even bigger table with a huge feast. However, each family and culture has a different way of celebrating. You don’t need 10 or 20 people to be thankful — you don’t even need one or two other people. Being by yourself or with a small group of peers can be the perfect way to celebrate Thanksgiving. Have a Friendsgiving, a Worksgiving or just celebrate in a way that will allow you to honor this holiday and have fun. Even on campus, there are clubs and organizations holding Thanksgiving-themed events for all of the UWT community to partake in. Do something that is different than what you’re used to — step out of your comfort zone and celebrate with new people who might also be alone during the holiday season.
For students away from home, my UWT challenge for this holiday season is to not let the holidays become a time of self-pity. Rejoice in the fact that you are lucky to be a student and that you are able to celebrate what matters in your life that you love. Make your feast and get out the fancy dollar store china to celebrate with the person that matters the most — you! Get with friends, peers or classmates and make the most of the situation you are in. Don’t let one aspect of the holiday hinder you from celebrating what you are thankful for.