Students’ small-scale Thanksgiving can be just as enjoyable

Courtesy photo/ Clipart library

“We’re hosting 40 people at my house!”

“I’m going to the Bahamas with my family!”

“I’m having three separate dinners!”

I certainly hear a fair share of people around referring to these kinds of Thanksgiving plans in the days and weeks leading up to the holiday season. It can be difficult to hear about extravagant, adventurous plans when you know that your own are quite the opposite. No one reacts with great excitement when I say, “I’m going to my sister’s house in Hanover, Virginia, for Thanksgiving with nine or 10 people.” Although plans with my mom, brother, sister and their immediate families are not exactly front-page news, I still look forward to holiday get-togethers. I have discovered the amazing parts of small, simple holiday dinners.

I live in Henrico, Virginia, a city located west of Richmond just over an hour from the College. My older sister and brother both live 25-30 minutes northwest of me, so all of my family is concentrated in central Virginia. No matter who hosts a holiday meal, it is a short drive for everyone else. When I come home from college, I just want to rest and recharge my batteries after a grueling stretch of school. It would be cool to get to go on a long road trip to somewhere far away or extravagant, but it is really nice to have the extra time to relax and work through infinite loads of laundry instead of having to travel. I also get to spend more time at home in my own bed rather than scrambling to make plans to stay in a hotel.

I have been at adult parties with 40 or more people before, and it’s chaos. You never know where things are, there’s not enough room to sit and you only know a handful of people. You end up searching for people you know for 30 minutes, only to realize that most of the food is already gone. These kinds of get-togethers allow you to see people you would not usually see and talk to many different people, but they lack a certain intimacy that I think pairs well with the holidays. While family get-togethers with four girls under the age of 12 and some excited dogs can be chaotic in a different way, it’s a lot easier to have conversations with people that you know and really care about. You know when and where to get food and everyone can sit together. I enjoy being able to spend quality time with quality people rather than have brief exchanges with 50 people I haven’t seen in a year and won’t see for another year.

It was not always easy for me to hear about holiday plans that were “better” than mine, but I have realized that my plans are always wonderful, too.

Having multiple Thanksgivings means more food, which sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? This can be a great thing and a way to have several small or medium gatherings with family and friends. However, this can stretch over two or three days of a short break or make Thanksgiving a marathon from morning until late in the night. This can be exciting but equally stressful and exhausting. During my family’s holiday meals, everyone can take their time eating and socializing without having to worry about rushing off (unless some of my nieces need to go to bed because it’s getting late). Holidays are not a rushed formality, and everyone can savor the food and time spent together.

It was not always easy for me to hear about holiday plans that were “better” than mine, but I have realized that my plans are always wonderful, too. I am thankful to have a roof over my head for the holidays and a family, small as it may be, that cares about me. As we move from Thanksgiving toward the new year, I hope that everyone can find the bright spots in their holiday celebrations and simply enjoy time with family and friends, no matter what form it may come in.

Email Keven Richeson at


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