Thanksgiving in Oxford (posted by Jimmy in England)

Ever since I can remember, Thanksgiving Day has always consisted of a series of repeated events.  I would wake up, go into the kitchen and start eating with family.  We would all watch the parade, maybe play a little football outside, listen to Christmas music, eat more, watch some football, eat more, sleep and then prepare for what is known as Black Friday.  There would be endless amounts of different appetizers, stuffing, turkey, potatoes and of course pies.  The feast would go on all day and it was all about enjoying the company of family.  During college, Thanksgiving has also been a time to relax after 13 long weeks at school and prepare for that last haul before finals.  Last year if someone had asked me where I would be during the next Thanksgiving, Oxford wouldn’t have even been a fathomable attempt at an answer.  Yet even though I missed Thanksgiving this year, I will say that the day was pretty memorable.

I woke up early in the morning to prepare for my cancer tutorial at 11 o’clock.  Yes, I had a tutorial on Thanksgiving.  The previous three days had been marked by very little sleep. I haven’t mentioned it yet, but this summer my 3 friends and I started a non-profit organization called Chance To Play.  We aim to use sports as an outlet for families dealing with a medical issue.  We wanted to release our website on Thanksgiving as a way to show how thankful we are to the people who have helped us and for the opportunities that we have been given.  Needless to say, that is where the lack of sleep came from. (If you would like to check out the website, please visit us at http://www.chancetoplay.org it’s awesome! ) Anyways I was very excited about the launch and it is what got me through the devastating idea of having a tutorial on Thanksgiving.

After the tutorial, I slept for a few hours; what’s Thanksgiving without the typical mid-day nap?  After the nap, the true American festivities began.  The people who run St. Catherine’s College, the college that I am affiliated with at the University of Oxford, are amazing people.  They knew that the visiting students would be missing their normal festivities, so they planned an evening for us.  It started at 18:30 when we all met at the college for champagne with the Headmaster and Deans.  About 30 undergraduate visiting students, along with a few graduate students, attended.  It was one of those full circle moments where you realize how far you’ve come along.  The drinks were in the same room that our welcoming ceremonies were in and this was the first time that we had been back.  A little bit less than two months ago, none of us knew each other and at the time we were all imagining what the next chapter of our lives would entail.  After having been through 8 weeks I can say that we’ve come a long way.

Thanksgiving table at St. Catz, my college at Oxford University

Thanksgiving table at St. Catz

After the drinks, we went to a hall where all of the visiting students were given their own table to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal.  I don’t want to betray the familial ties, but I will say that it came close (it wasn’t as good, but very close) to a typical Thanksgiving dinner. They went all out with potatoes (mashed and sweet), gravy, stuffing, breads, wines, green beans, turkey, bacon, sausages and of course pies.  It was incredible!

The menu for the evening, at our Thanksgiving celebration at St. Catz, Oxford

‘ The menu for the evening

One big family to feed at the Oxford Thanksgiving celebration for students

One big family to feed

Once the meal was over, two of my friends and I went to the University Club.  Jordan is a visiting student from Oklahoma City who goes to William Jewell College in Missouri.  We became friends over our mutual love of the NBA and the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Sports connect us all.  Jess is a visiting student from Oregon who goes to school outside of New York City at Sarah Lawrence College.  She’s the visiting students representative and is helping produce a play in Oxford in the spring.  There are so many amazing people at Oxford with different backgrounds and different interests.  It has helped me realize how big of a place the world is.  The University Club is a recreational hall for Oxford students…. it also was the only place that we could find the American tradition of Thanksgiving football!  We showed up in time to see the Texans beat the Lions in overtime and then stayed to watch the Redskins beat the Cowboys!  I couldn’t think of a more American way to celebrate Thanksgiving!

In looking back on it I can truly say that I will remember this one for a while.  Although I wasn’t home I did have a great time enjoying the day with friends.  Like every Thanksgiving, it gave me a time to realize how thankful I am for everybody in my life and all of the wonderful opportunities that I have been given.  Who knows where I will be next Thanksgiving, only time will tell!  HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

Stand up, on this Thanksgiving Day, stand upon your feet. Believe in man. Soberly and with clear eyes, believe in your own time and place. There is not, and there never has been a better time, or a better place to live in. -Phillips Brooks.

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