Going Home for Thanksgiving: Expectations vs. Reality

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Midterms are over and you have now entered the calm before the storm of finals: Thanksgiving Break. Relaxation is imminent and you find yourself smiling at seeing your family again after three months of separation. Your bags are packed, your flight is booked and you’re more than ready to get out of the extra-long dorm bed and in to your queen sized cloud in your old room. However, what will unfold is beyond your control. You may even wish you stayed at school. Don’t say we didn’t warn you…

THE FLIGHT

Expectation:

You’re right on schedule and you’re flying out of the security check. There’s an hour left until your flight and you crack open your book to get ahead of the game before finals begin the following week. The window seat you hoped to get is wide open and you even manage to catch eyes with a cute guy across the row. Life is good.

Reality:

The FlyAway bus you called to pick you up is running late. After forty-five minutes of waiting, the driver finally arrives and you have nearly pulled all of your hair out, but it’s okay because you’re now on your way to the airport. You hope to get a head start on the reading before finals week, but you realize that you’ve left your book on the nightstand in your dorm room. The security check goes swimmingly and you find yourself boarding the plane with five minutes to spare. Despite finding one of the last window seats on the plane, you also find yourself sitting next to a toddler on their first flight ever. Plug in your iPhone, this is going to be a long flight.

THANKSGIVING MORNING

Expectation:

Your bed was magnificent; it felt just like you remember, but much softer. It’s the morning of Thanksgiving and you’re stretched out on the couch with your mom’s famous waffles and a cup of coffee watching The Thanksgiving Day Parade. Just like every other year, you help your dad prepare the turkey and stuffing. You talk casually about class and college life as you chop scallions and he minces garlic.

Reality:

Your bed was atrocious; the mattress was lumpier than you remembered and it smelled of your tiny dog who has claimed your room as his new domain. You go downstairs to find your parents in a manic frenzy: setting the table, arranging floral centerpieces, and almost forgetting to take the turkey out to thaw. You manage to pour what’s left of the coffee from the pot and sit down to watch the end of the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Dad is in the kitchen and you walk in to help out only to get reamed for getting a C- on a midterm paper that you don’t remember telling him about. You manage to escape the near-argument with a few mental bruises and head upstairs to shower.

THANKSGIVING DINNER

Expectation:

Relatives begin to pour in and at the very sight of you, they go nuts with pride. You’re bombarded with questions ranging from “How are you doing, Mr. College Man?” to “You’re getting all A’s aren’t you? You’re so smart!” Your self-esteem is at an all-time high and you never want to come down. As the guest of honor, your mom hands you the carving knife and asks you to carve the turkey, an honor reserved for the eldest member at the table. Everything up until this moment has been amazing and you can’t even bother to think about going back to school.

Reality:

Relatives come in and you’re greeted with lukewarm sentiment in the vein of “Oh, I think the freshman fifteen hit you pretty hard” and “How’s school? Are you in college already?” You brush this off and head to the table when your grandma locks her arm on to yours and asks you very quietly, “So have you gotten any since you’ve been in college?” Creeped out, you find a seat at the opposite end of the table and attempt to mentally scrub your brain.

BACK TO REALITY

Expectation:

Tears are shed as your parents drop you off at the airport. You assure them that you only have three weeks left of classes until you’re there for Winter Break. You hug each other tightly and you’re on the flight back to reality. Finals are coming but you feel prepared; ready to take on anything and before you know it, you’ll be back home.

Reality:

Your dad gives you a swift pat on the back as he drops you off at the airport. He’s sarcastic when he says he’ll miss you, but that’s nothing new. You board the plane and digest what happened in the span of the last two days. Sure, it didn’t go as planned, but nothing truly does. All you know is that you got to see your family and that should be enough for anybody. School isn’t so bad and it gives you that well-deserved breathing space between you and the craziness of family. All that’s standing between you and that feeling is finals week: bring it on.

Jason Credo is a fourth-year English major at San Diego State University. He hopes to one day be able to write an Emmy award-winning TV show that gets ten seasons and then becomes syndicated.

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