Congratulations, freshwomen; you’re almost done with your first semester of college! Finals are coming faster than you can say “blue book,” but before you get there, you have one last big hurdle: going home for Thanksgiving. If you haven’t been home yet during the semester, odds are, you’re excited to see your friends and, though you’d hate to admit it, your family. Keep in mind, though, that your glorious homecoming might not be as bright and shiny as you imagined.
Remember to keep breathing.
The moment you step in your house and drop your bags onto your trundle bed, you’ll grab your parents’ car keys and meet up with your high school friends. These meetings are going to be your refuge from what’s happening at home, but they are also going show you how much you and your friends have changed in those few months at school. When you come together (at your old favorite restaurant/in someone’s basement) you will immediately compete one another with your “craziest college story EVER” and share new life experiences (“Wait. You did…it!?”). It may seem like everyone has changed, but things will fall right back into place when you reminisce about old times by your lockers and talk about all those weirdos who never left your hometown.
There will of course be uncomfortable run-ins with the people you were dying to get away from after graduation, the people you didn’t like that much to begin with and exes. These potentially awkward situations don’t have to be so bad if you remember to wear makeup be nice. It’s entirely possible your time apart has made things better. And if it hasn’t, well, just remember your breathing. And pretend you’re on the phone with someone and don’t see them as you scurry off in the opposite direction.
If you’re a town mouse who’s learned to make her way in the big city over the last few months, your town may feel small when you get back home. (Especially when you realize the only food that comes in the form of delivery is pizza…and only until 9pm.) The time between move-in day and Thanksgiving has flown by, and you’ve grown in leaps and bounds. Your new-found sense of freedom, your worldliness, and your social habits may not go over well. Mom and Dad are expecting to pick up their baby from the airport, not a young woman equally familiar with Marx and Long Islands. Let them let you go in their own time. They will keep telling you what to do and when to be home. They will keep talking to you like you are their baby. Just keep breathing, deeply. It will take some time for them to loosen up.
But that’s really the least of your problems. Your parents–nay, every adult family member–will want to know what your plans are. Do you have a major? What do you think you want to do after graduation? If you don’t know yet, tell them, “I think about being a [blank] major, but I’m still exploring my options.” Most are quick to back peddle and say, “Well, I guess you still have time.” Be prepared to answer the same questions about your major, your friends, your roommates, and your dating habits many, many times. This is perhaps one of the toughest parts of Thanksgiving. Try to talk to groups of family members at once to cut down on the number of times you have to explain things but do not, under any circumstances, show that you’re annoyed. Take a bite of mashed potatoes, swallow, and smile.
Somewhere between all of this you will have to fit in some reading/studying for your Monday classes. Just don’t bring the books out in front of the family; unless, of course, you want to answer 25 more questions on what you’re learning and how you’re doing in that class.
Eventually, with a full belly and a massive headache, you’ll it to Sunday. Pack up your leftovers (don’t forget the stuff in the freezer!), the things you forgot in August (like your high school yearbook), and hug your family and friends tight (promising to “be a lot better” about those weekly phone calls). Take a deep breath and head back to the sanctuary that is your college life.
And with that you’ve made it through your first Thanksgiving. It may have been tough at times (like when your parents made you come home on Saturday night by 11), but just indulge in that leftover stuffing and know that this was only a test run for the real race: Winter Break.