To me, there was always something so comforting about the shift from Halloween to Thanksgiving– because as November begins and October comes to a close, we know that the one holiday we’ve always spent under the warm glow of our own home’s lights is quickly approaching. Every year come Thanksgiving, we’ve traipsed around the kitchen hoping to get a scrap of whatever food may be laying around before dinner, gotten dressed in our nicest clothes, went around the table expressing what we were grateful for, and made big plans with our best friends.
This year, things are a little bit different. Instead of waking up on the days leading up to Thanksgiving morning in our own beds, we will be waking up in our dorm rooms, with our roommate sleeping so close by to us that we can hear him or her breathing ever so lightly. Instead of walking into our closets and throwing on our favorite dress, we will sort through our disorganized suitcases to find what we brought back from school. We will take a car-ride, or a bus ride, or in my case, a plane ride home and finally begin to understand that being home for the holidays requires a bit more effort than it did last year. We will step foot onto our driveways and realize that although this will always be home, we don’t live here anymore, and if things go as planned, we probably never will again.
We’ll call up our friends and make plans to have a sleepover like we always used to—the ones that always end up in late-night runs to Target for food that we probably shouldn’t be eating, and all of us laying in bed together talking about things that we could swear nobody else would ever understand. But we don’t have those sleepovers every weekend anymore, and we can’t pick each other up randomly to grab lunch or go costume shopping at the mall for Spirit Week. We are no longer seniors who “Run Th15”, or really run anything at all. We will all get together and exchange giant hugs, then begin to talk about all of our lives that we now live separately. Which, if we’re all being honest, are just not as interesting to talk about as our lives that we once lived together. Someone will bring up their new friend “Emily” and somebody else will ask “which Emily?” then she’ll begin to explain who Emily is, but it doesn’t mean much to the rest of us. Of course we care, we will always care, but Thanksgiving just isn’t Thanksgiving the way it always was this year.
We must be aware of one thing—it is normal to expect that everything will be the same this year; that we will just jump into the swing of things with our high school friends as we always did and be disappointed when that just doesn’t happen. It is normal to feel envy when one of your closest friends talks about how much she loves her sorority sister, even though you know that you were her sister first—she understands that too, I promise.
And most importantly, it is normal to wake up the morning that you are scheduled to go back to school and feel a pit in your stomach that you are leaving things unsettled—because to you, everything feels as if it should be exactly how it was when you left it in August. There is nothing to fix, just things to adapt to. You are still best friends with your friends from high school, you just don’t know their everyday whereabouts, and that’s okay. You will always have their back and they will always have yours, no matter what fraternity party you go to or who you accidentally kiss. They will always be the ones who remind you of your popularity streak in the 10th grade that ended abruptly in the 11th, and who poke fun at you for that one time you tripped on your camping trip in front of the whole class. They will check-in on you through every heartbreak, family issue, and strange, strange Thanksgiving.
So here’s to new beginnings, and being grateful this year for the fact that not only do you have your old friends, but you have so many new ones too. Go back to school, keep your head up, and know that you have two homes now—one new one that will support you in all of your endeavors, and one old one that you know will always, always catch you if you fall.